Abortion in History

Abortion in History & Culture through the World

In America, abortion was practiced legally many years ago until the arrival of 1800s.[1].  In mid to late 1800s, laws were applied in the country to make abortion illegal. [1]. The anti-abortion laws differed from one state to another. [1]. One reason to have the law was due to an increase in birth rate of immigrants that would exceed the natives’ population. [1].

In the 1800s, medical practice was not in favor as surgical and medical procedures pose danger to people. [1]. The mortality rates of both, mother and infant were high but at that time there was no choice but to go through abortion with illegal medical doctors. [1]. At some point, due to having illegal doctors, abortion had become illegal in order to allow doctors to establish themselves as individuals with the right to practice. [1].

From 1880-1973, there was a period of “Back-Alley Abortions” that created danger to women who underwent illegal abortion. [1]. Many women suffered or died due to receiving treatment from illegal/untrained doctors or due to self-inducing abortion. [1].

From the year of 1967 till 1973, about a third of states had revoked their abortion laws but undergoing legal abortion was only for American women in 1973. [1]. In 1973, Roe vs Wade court decision allowed to have safe and legal abortions from professional doctors. [1].1967, Colorado was first to remove abortion law and three years later, Alaska, New York, Hawaii, and Washington also removed the law. [1]. In the year of 1976, funds were provided to women with low-income for abortions. [1]. In 1992, undergoing abortion before fetal viability was allowed. [1]. In the year of 2000, a drug known as mifepristone was introduced and it was an option for early pregnancy abortion. [1].

Worldwide abortions differ from country to country. In China, abortion was legalized since the 1950s but it was not common until the government made the one-child among couple policy. [2]. In the initial years, the number of abortions was few but as the years went by, the number of abortions increased. [2]. In 1983, the number of abortions reached the peak but Beijing made a new regulation where rural couples were allowed to have a second child if the first child was a girl. [2]. In that same year, women were using intrauterine devices which led to a decrease in abortions. [2].  Until the 1990s, women were asked for their marital status at clinics since urban couples were allowed only one child. [2].

In UK, the Abortion Law Reform Association was made to campaign the support of abortion. [3]. In 1967, the Abortion Act became a law where abortion was allowed under some conditions. [3].  In 1975, the National Abortion Campaign was created to protect the 1967 Act and campaigned to make improvements. [3].

In terms of religion, the views of various religions differ from each other. According to Hinduism scriptures and traditions, abortion is not allowed as it interferes with reincarnation. [4]. In certain circumstances, such as if mother’s life is in danger, then abortion can be proceeded. [4]. In Hinduism, it has been said that a soul is reincarnated at the time an embryo has been conceived. [4]. The importance of the soul is its karmic fate. [4]. Besides abortion interfering with reincarnation, it may also affect other aspects. Abortion interferes with the soul’s choice of parents – when a soul is reincarnated, it does not choose its parents and enter the womb instead the choice of parents depends on their karma. [5]. Abortion also interferes with the journey of souls in the mortal world and the spiritual destiny of ancestors. [5].

According to Islam, abortion is wrong but it can be allowed in certain situations such as if mother’s life is in danger. [6]. If any abortion must take place, it should occur before 120 days of pregnancy. [6]. Some scholars say that if the fetus suffers from any abnormality, then abortion can happen whereas other scholars disagree. [6]. With the current times, Iran has allowed abortion under 10 weeks if the unborn is prone to genetic blood disorder. [6]. Also, Iran allowed abortion in first three months for variety of reasons. [6]. In cases of rape and incest, some scholars agree to abortion in less than120 days while other scholars oppose. [6].

According to traditional Buddhism, abortion is wrong as it involves destroying a life. [7]. But in certain cases, such as if the fetus would end up being mentally and physically challenged, then abortion can be allowed. [7]. But according to modern Buddhists, it is more about the morality of abortion. [7]. Buddhists take full responsibility of their doings and consequences even if it is a decision regarding the mother’s life. [7]. In Buddhism, if abortion is proceeded, then bad karma would exist for the mother and the fetus. [7]. It would also obstruct its spiritual process. [7].

In Judaism, abortion is allowed only for certain reasons. [8]. In Judaism, fetus is not a person until it has given birth. [8]. Abortion takes places in first forty days of pregnancy. [8].  Strict Judaism allows abortion if the mother’s life is in danger because the mother’s life is more crucial than the unborn child. [8]. If the unborn has some defects, then abortion is not permitted by some schools of Judaism while it is allowed by others depending on the pain caused to the mother. [8]. In cases of rape and incest, abortion is only allowed if it can impose a danger to the mother’s health. [8].

To conclude, the laws of abortion differed from country to country and with growing years abortion has become legal. Furthermore, there is also a decline in rate of abortion due to the different uses of contraceptives and advanced medical technology. Abortion views also differ from one religion to another due to its different beliefs.