About Induced Abortion

About Induced Abortion

Induced abortion is a sensitive topic which draws controversies with moral, cultural, religious and medical dimensions. The term “induced abortion” refers to a purposely implemented termination of human pregnancy. Abortion on request is widely legalized in developed countries and supported by a large number of liberal modernists who suggest that abortion should be solely of individual decision-making. When expectant couples or women face cases in which delivering the baby may lead to negative effects on their medical, financial, or social lives, they tend to prioritize themselves and choose abortion as a widely positive solution. Nevertheless, in no cases should induced abortion be promoted as a positive reproductive choice. In fact, abortion should only be recommended as a last resort when no other steps can be taken to address issues.

From an ethical perspective, induced abortion is not only as guilty as committing a crime but also unjust. The first ethical issue is that to abort a child is to kill a growing human. Firstly, a fetus is the very first stage of a human life and the beginning of a lengthy development process which does not end until death. Secondly, a human fetus carries a complete set of genetic code and an organic body and is believed by many religions, particularly the Catholic Church, to host a human soul. On 27 November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI stated: “We may say with Tertullian, an ancient Christian writer: “the one who will be a man is one already” (Apologeticum IX,8), there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.” [1] Based on these two points, a small embryo cannot be categorized as any life form other than a human. Therefore, discarding a fetus literally means to end a human life. This is nothing similar to conducting an abortion to save a life. When a pregnancy is negatively abnormal and leads to medical emergencies that require timely treatment, for example, the life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, removing the defective embryo from the mother’s body is mandatory and considered a humanitarian act. However, removing a healthy and evolving fetus from the mother’s womb is killing a healthy human, which is a grave sin.

This leads to the second moral issue that aborting apregnancy is unfair to the unborn child. Admittedly, abortion is a painful choice and people always have various excuses for abortions. These excuses eventually come down to their personal benefits on health, social, and professional levels. It is not unusual in Vietnam that a woman goes to a private clinic to abort her illegitimate child due to her family’s fear of bad reputation. Or, a high-achieving professional refuses to give birth to her baby because a child will occupy an enormously large amount of time resulting in a delay in her career progression. These behaviors originate from their desire for well-being, which is legitimate and a primary human right – the right to pursuit happiness. Nonetheless, it is also important to note that a fetus deserves the right to live. As clearly stated in the United States Declaration of Independence that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that <a>all men are created equal</a>, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are <a>Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness</a>.” [2], a fetus, as a human, is granted the natural right of life which should be respected and protected. An abortion is to abort a life, thus deprives an innocent and defenseless baby of this right, although it can be socially and professionally beneficial to some people. It is highly unjust and hardly agreeable that one can violate another’s welfare to preserve his own.

From a medical perspective, abortions produce negative impacts on mothers’ health. Supporters of the abortion right may argue that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures owing to the dedication of governments, officials in the medical sector, and physicians. This may be true in developed countries where abortion fatality rates are as low as less than one death per 100,000 abortions [3]. However, this figure does not depict the global picture. The total population of industrialized nations makes up only 17% of that of the world – 1,246 million over 7,137 million [4]. Meanwhile, a mass majority of nearly 5.9 billion people are living in third-world communities where a great number of 18,400,000 unsafe abortions occurred in 2000 [3]. Furthermore, a report of the Population Reference Bureau of U.S indicated that nearly half of all abortions were unsafe and that women in low-income countries, of which the national income per capita per year ranges from $230 to $1030, experienced an average of one unsafe abortion during their reproductive lives [5].

Unsafe abortion is defined by the WHO as a procedure for a termination of human pregnancy that is performed by an individual lacking the necessary skills, or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both. An abortion often involves direct physical contact of metal tools with inner organs which are particularly delicate and vulnerable to any sharp objects or excessive force. Therefore, its risk of death is overwhelmingly high if the abortion is not carried out by people possessing both professional skills and ethics. Take a case of maternal death in US in 2013 for a stark example. A woman who had been in her third trimester of pregnancy suffered from massive internal bleeding due to a defective abortion procedure and died 4 days after undergoing the abortionin Carhart Clinic – a private clinic in Germantown, Maryland, U.S [6]. Moreover, similar cases are numerous. According to the WHO’s report in 2012, an estimated 13% of all maternal deaths were abortion-related. In addition, unsafe abortions claimed 47,000 lives annually, of which most were in developing countries [3].

The adverse medical corollaries of unsafe abortion include not only maternal mortality but also health issues, for instance, injuries, infertility, and mental disorder. According to experts, an abortion during the first trimester increases the rate of miscarriage in later pregnancies by approximately 400% because the womb is damaged to certain extents regardless of the expertise of the medical operative. Along with a striking fact that the overall rate of miscarriage during the first trimester is 17 – 22% [7], induced abortion poses a real threat to human reproductive health. Besides, many women go through post-traumatic mental disorder after abortion since they are constantly obsessed and tormented by the idea of aborting their own children. A research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry revealed that abortion was linked with an increase of 34% for anxiety disorders, 37% higher possibility of depression, and 110 to 220% greater risk of narcotic or alcoholic abuse [8]. More important, abortion-related health problems do not arise in small number. As recently reported by the WHO, an estimated 8 million women per year encounter post-abortion complications which may pertain to heavy bleeding, infection, or incomplete abortion and require healthcare attention. Of these 8 million patients, 3 million never receive the treatment they need [3].

From social and economic perspectives, the consequences of unsafe abortions are far beyond its instant influences on public health. Tackling the complications stemming from abortions requires relevant financial and human resources, putting significant strain on the already struggling public healthcare system of developing countries. Medical facilities of the third world simply do not have adequate supplies to provide quality service for post-abortion complications. The insufficient infrastructure is often further compounded by the shortage of skilled medical workers and equipment. A 2009 study suggested that the minimum estimated cost of post-abortion treatment in the developing world per annum was $341 million [3]. Economic burdens generated by abortion-related complications are not only expenditure but also decreases in national incomes. Because women’s productivity is reduced after traumatizing abortions, the number of workers and taxpayers decline and the country’s revenue falls accordingly. In 2008, a researcher who had spent over a decade studying the impact of abortions on the U.S economy found that the cumulative economic loss caused by over 56.6 million abortions from 1970 to 2013 was $50 trillion [9]. It is an excessively large number compared with the country’s $16.8 trillion GDP in 2013 [10] and nearly four times as much as the total cost of $13.6 trillion for raising these 56.6million children to the age of 18, knowing that the estimated average expenditure on a single child spent by a middle-class family is $241,080 [11].

Besides economic damages, social issues also register. Abortion-related deaths not also leave children motherless but also induce mental traumas on fathers who lost their wives. Many psychological studies suggest that people having experienced overwhelming misery, stress, or pain tend to build their own mental gaps isolating themselves from others. They care less about their relatives. As a result, the deaths of wives create an attitude of neglect towards everything in their lives among which are their sons and daughters. In addition, widowed men face double amount of challenges in their lives. They have to be the sole breadwinner of their families as well as to play the roles of mothers. Intense stress and neglectfulness ends in fathers releasing their mental pressure on their children. In these cases, maternal deaths from abortion have led to child abuse which is reflected by striking facts: The US National Center of Child Abuse and Neglect, has reported that child abuse increased more than 1,000 percent since the legalization of abortion in 1973. A September 2003 UNICEF report said that New Zealand’s rate of child deaths from maltreatment is now 1.2 per 100,000 [12]. This is more than four times the first world average, and New Zealand has the world’s second highest percentage of single parent families.

Lastly, abortion has always been the outcome of unintended pregnancy. Each year, around 80 million pregnancies are unwanted and over 50% of them culminate in abortions [13]. Therefore, unwanted pregnancies, as the root cause of the problem, should be more focused instead of promoting abortion. Besides, providing family planning methods requires muchless budget than post-abortion care. According to a case study in Nigeria, the cost for contraceptive services for women to avoid unwanted pregnancies is only one-fourth of the spending of Nigerian medical facilities for post-abortion care.

Unintended pregnancies mainly stem from inadequate education of reproductive health and limited supply of contraception. Women in developing countries usually have poor knowledge of contraceptive methods. They often believe that there is no chance they are getting pregnant. They worry about possible side-effects of birth control methods, particularly contraceptive pills. Also, it should be noticed that their sexual partners may refuse to engage in contraception. And even when couples are aware that they need modern contraceptive methods, poor access to family planning sidelines them from practicing safe sex. According to the 2012 report of the WHO, “the uptake of modern contraceptive methods worldwide has slowed in recent years, from an increase of 0.6 percentage points per year in 1990–1999 to an increase of only 0.1 percentage points per year in 2000–2009” [3]. In Africa, the annual increase in the use of modern contraceptives fell from 0.8 percentage points in 1990–1999 to 0.2 percentage points in 2000–2009. Around 82% of unintended pregnancies in developing world occur among women who have unmet need for modern contraception [3].

In conclusion, intentional termination of human pregnancy presents a considerable number of serious drawbacks that would urge any woman who is aware of its negative side to think of an alternative before committing an abortion. Inducing an abortion has never been largely ethically acceptable. Plus, it is socially and economically detrimental and its medical consequences are long-lasting and fatal. Moreover, induced abortions have their roots in unintended pregnancies for which viable measures are more economical than those for abortions. For these reasons, “in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning.” [14] Prevention of unwanted pregnancies should always be a priority task to reduce the need for abortion.


[1]P. B. XVI, Celebration of the first vespers of first sunday of advent for unborn life, Vatican, 2010.

[2]T. Jefferson, United States Declaration of Independence, 1776.

[3]Guttmacher Institute, World Health Organization, “Facts on induced abortion worldwide,” World Health Organization, 2012.

[4]Population Reference Bureau, “2013 World Population Data Sheet,” Population Reference Bureau, 2013.

[5]Population Reference Bureau, “Abortion: Facts and Figures,” Population Reference Bureau, 2011.

[6]C. Kiene, “Jennifer McKenna-Morbelli Death: Pro-Life Group Demands Justice After Abortion-Related Passing,” Huffington Post, 12 February 2013.

[7]C. M. V. J. L. S. D.-R. V. García-Enguídanos, “Risk factors in miscarriage: a review,” European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, vol. 102, no. 2, pp. 111 – 119, 10 May 2002.

[8]P. K. Coleman, “Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995–2009,” The British Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 199, no. 3, pp. 180 – 186, 2011.

[9]D. M. Howard, “The Abortion Index,” The Movement for a Better America, 2013.

[10]Bureau of Economic Analysis – U.S Department of Commerce, “Gross Domestic Product: 4th Quarter and Annual 2013 (Advance Estimate),” Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2014.

[11]United States Department of Agriculture, “Expenditures on Children by Families, 2012,” United States Department of Agriculture, 2013.

[12]United Naitions Children’s Fund, “A League Table of Child Maltreatment Deaths in Rich Nations,” United Naitions Children’s Fund, 2003.

[13]World Health Organization, “World Health Report,” World Health Organization, 2005.

[14]United Nations, “Program of Action,” in International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, 1994.


About Long D. Hoang

* Chevening Scholar 2015 - 2016. * Master of Architecture in Environmental Design, University of Nottingham.
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