Abortion happens when an unborn baby’s life ends. About 200 million women get pregnant every year. During the same time 44 million abortions are carried out around the world. Fortunately, the abortion rate has gone down because more and more people, especially in developing countries, are receiving a better sexual education. Better family planning also leads to fewer abortions.

History of abortion

Abortions have been performed for thousands of years. The ancient Romans and Greeks were not very concerned about the lives of unborn babies. In the Old Testament women had to pay a fine if they had a miscarriage. Abortion laws have changed in most of the western world throughout the past centuries.



Types of Abortion

Spontaneous abortions happen naturally. Doctors call them miscarriages. They occur for many reasons, for example, because of a disease that a pregnant woman might get or a horrible event that occurred to her.

In an induced abortion the fetus is taken out of a mother’s body on purpose.


Methods of Abortion

In many cases doctors perform abortions through operations. In a very common method the unborn baby is sucked out of a mother’s womb with a tube. An abortion can also be carried out with drugs.  RU-486, a drug that was developed in France stops a natural hormone from preparing a woman from bearing a child. In some cases doctors use other methods and drugs to end a pregnancy. As a result the unborn baby passes out of a female body.

In most countries abortions are carried out within the first three months of pregnancy. Abortions that are performed at a later stage are riskier and may endanger a woman’s health.

Unsafe abortions are carried out in countries where they are banned or performed by unskilled doctors or medical assistants who do not have the appropriate medical training.



Discussion on abortion

Abortion is an issue that has been discussed for ages.  Doctors, theologists, philosophers and politicians disagree on two issues: Should a mother be allowed to have an abortion and should an unborn child be protected?

In the course of the 20th century two groups evolved. Those who are in favor of allowing abortion are called the pro-choice movement, those who are against it the pro-life movement.

Arguments against abortion

  • Human embryos should have the same rights as normal people
  • Killing unborn life is murder
  • A child is a gift of God
  • Abortion disrespects human life
  • Women who undergo an abortion may have serious psychological problems later on in life

Arguments in favor abortion

  • Abortion should be allowed if a woman’s life is in danger
  • Some say that abortion should be allowed if a child is expected to have a mental deficiency or is going to be mentally ill.
  • Many doctors and psychologists think that abortion should be allowed if a woman has been raped.
  • Everyone should have control over their own body.
  • Some young mothers live in poverty  and are too young to cope with a child.


Abortion in countries around the world

Although most countries have some form of legalized abortion that allows a woman to end her pregnancy within the first three months, there are other countries that forbid abortion completely. Among them are Malta, Chile, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

In Ireland, abortion is illegal except in situations in which a mother’s life is in danger. As a result, thousands of Irish women travel to British clinics and hospitals to get an abortion there.

Overpopulation in Asia has led to legalizing abortion.  Some countries offer it for free. In China, where the government has enforced a one-child policy for over three decades, health authorities encourage women to have an abortion if they become pregnant a second time. Abortion is performed more often if the fetus turns out to be female.

In 1973 a landmark decision by the US Supreme Court made abortion legal in all 50 states.



Abortion and religion

The Roman Catholic Church holds the strictest position on abortion. It is against ending an unborn child’s life in every case.  It claims that human life must be respected from the second it starts.

Islam considers abortion as wrong but still lets woman carry it out for medical reasons.

Buddhists think that life should not be destroyed and reject abortion. However, modern Buddhism is divided on the issue.


After an abortion

Many women cope with serious problems after having an abortion. They suffer from negative feelings, depression and have frequent nightmares. They often undergo a series of mixed emotions. Sometimes they never become pregnant later on.


Related Topics



  • abortion rate = the number of abortions compared to the number of pregnant women
  • although = while
  • ancient = old
  • appropriate = the right
  • bear = give birth to
  • century = a hundred years
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • common = popular; often used
  • concerned = worried about
  • consider = think
  • cope = deal with
  • decade = period of ten years
  • deficiency =  if you do not have something that is necessary
  • develop = make, create, design
  • developing country = poor country of the Third World
  • disagree = differ; to share different opinions
  • disease = illness
  • disrespect = not respect
  • divided = split
  • drugs = medicine
  • embryo = an animal or human that has not been born and has just begun to develop
  • encourage = to tell a person they should do something
  • endanger = put in danger
  • enforce = put into effect
  • evolve = grow
  • except = apart from
  • fine = money that you have to pay as punishment
  • fortunately = luckily
  • frequent = very often
  • hormone = chemical substance that is produced by your body
  • horrible = bad, terrible
  • however = but
  • in favor of = to be for something
  • in the course of = as something moves on or develops
  • induced = here: planned; something that you have been prepared for
  • issue = topic
  • landmark decision = a very important decision that can change something in the future
  • law = rules of a country
  • legalized = legal
  • mental = about the brain or mind
  • miscarriage = a baby dies when it is born before it is ready to live by itself
  • movement = group
  • nightmare = a very frightening dream
  • occur = happen
  • on purpose = willingly
  • overpopulation = situation in which too many people live on an area of land
  • pass out = move out of
  • perform = carry out
  • politician = person who is in a high position in government  or who works in politics
  • poverty = the situation of being poor
  • pregnant = when an unborn baby grows inside a woman’s body
  • rape = to have sex with someone against a person’s will
  • receive = get
  • reject = to be against something ; to say no to
  • respect = value
  • risky = dangerous
  • series = many, several
  • serious = strong
  • spontaneous = unplanned , something that happens suddenly
  • suck out = pull out
  • theologist = person who has studied religion
  • throughout = in all of
  • tube = small round pipe
  • undergo = go through
  • unskilled = without training, amateur
  • womb = part of a woman’s body in which her baby grows