Abortion, according to WHO is defined as “the termination of pregnancy before the fetus is capable of extrauterine life”. There are basically two kinds of abortions. The one that is spontaneous and in which termination is not provoked is spontaneous abortion also known as miscarriage. On the other hand, induced abortions are caused by deliberate intervention. Induced abortions include both, those performed in accordance with legal sanctions, and those performed outside the law. Therapeutic abortion refers to medically indicated abortion when pregnant women’s life or health is threatened by continuation of pregnancy or when the health of the fetus appears threatened due to congenital or genetic factors.
Ninety nine percent of the millions of abortions taking place in America every year are illegal. The law in almost every state sanctions therapeutic operation to save the mother’s life. The fact is abortions take place whether legal or not. There are severe health consequences in societies where legal abortions are hard to obtain. The impact of illegal abortions on mental health has been found to be severe in societies with restrictive policies.
The first laws against abortion began to be made in Europe in 19th century that soon became quite widespread. While few countries had legalized abortions in the first half of the 20th century, almost two thirds of the women lived in nations that had legalized abortion. Most of the developing nations, with the notable exceptions of China and India, do not have legal abortion. According to the World Health Organization estimates, 95 percent of the unsafe abortions performed each year take place in the developing nations leading to 13 percent of all maternal mortalities.
Several consequences follow especially when young, unmarried women go for an abortion. There is the fear of negative health consequences in the future and emotional trauma apart from the fear of abortion procedure. However, the fear of social condemnation and moral judgment far outweigh the worry about health consequences. Abortion is perhaps an inevitable consequence of social and cultural constraints impacting upon gender norms. While abortion is seen as empowering women by making the reproductive health accessible to them, it is also seen as causing physical and mental trauma.
The consequences of abortion for women as well as society depend on twin factors of legal progress and increased access to safe abortion. The abortion related female mortality has been found to be high in societies where abortion is legally restricted and reproductive health services are poor. In contrast where these two factor are favorable, a woman opting to abort need not fear risk associated with health.