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Abortion A brief overview. Abortion: some terminology (procured) abortion spontaneous abortion human foetus abortion on demand human embryo Intentional.

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Presentation on theme: "Abortion A brief overview. Abortion: some terminology (procured) abortion spontaneous abortion human foetus abortion on demand human embryo Intentional."— Presentation transcript:

1 Abortion A brief overview

2 Abortion: some terminology (procured) abortion spontaneous abortion human foetus abortion on demand human embryo Intentional ending of unborn human life A miscarriage Commonly used to refer to unborn human life after first weeks Abortion available without the need for reasons Commonly used to refer to unborn human life during first weeks

3 Abortion: some statistics Worldwide estimates between 45 to 55 million annually Typically 175 000 to 180 000 annually in England and Wales Of these… Around 3.5% are for females under 16 Around 80% for females aged 16-24 About 85% of abortions are in the first trimester About 80% of abortions are NHS funded Unborn human life at the end of the first trimester

4 Development of human life Fertilization: the sperm and egg join in the fallopian tube Biologically complete human Needs are human needs: food, water, nurture… Forty-six chromosomes combine, which pre- determine all of a person's physical characteristics. Smaller than a pinhead Fertilisation (Conception)

5 Development of human life Early embryonic human life contains stem cells Stem cells are pluripotent They may become any tissue in the human body Process of rapid cell division occurs over the next hours, days and weeks This is the main feature of the first trimester of pregnancy Rapid cell division as the human blueprint carries itself out

6 Development of human life At six weeks recognisably human characteristics are starting to become visible Human embryo about size of a raisin The spine and spinal cord grows faster than the rest of the body at this stage and give the appearance of a tail The tiny heart has been beating for weeks Own distinct blood type Six weeks after conception

7 Development of human life At eight weeks unborn human life usually called a human foetus (rather than embryo) About half an inch (just over a centimetre) long Tiny human life protected by the amniotic sac, filled with fluid. Human foetus swims and moves Brain waves measurable Eight weeks after conception

8 Development of human life At fourteen weeks muscles lengthen and become organized The mother will soon start feeling the first signs of the unborn child kicking and moving within Typically 10% to 12% of UK abortions occur in the period of 13 to 19 weeks Fourteen weeks after conception

9 Development of human life At eighteen weeks the unborn human foetus has well developed limbs Grasping, kicking (somersaulting?) … Less than a foot long and less than three quarters of a pound Fine eyebrows and eyelashes Sex of child identifiable with ultrasound Eighteen weeks after conception

10 Development of human life At five months the unborn human foetus begins to practise breathing by inhaling amniotic fluid into developing lungs For several months, the umbilical cord has been the developing baby's lifeline to the mother If the mother takes in any toxic substances, drugs or alcohol, there is a chance these will pass into the baby’s bloodstream In the UK only 1% to 1.5% of abortions are after 20 weeks Five months after conception

11 Development of human life At present, UK law allows abortion of a healthy unborn life up to the 25 th week of pregnancy This limit was brought down from a previous limit of 28 weeks This ‘viability’ marker depends on the quality of pre-natal medical care 24 weeks after conception

12 Development of human life A child born prematurely

13 Abortion: the crux of the debate Years ago, while giving an anesthetic for a ruptured tubal pregnancy (at two months) I was handed what I believed to be the smallest human being ever seen. The embryo sac was intact and transparent. Within the sac was a tiny human male, swimming extremely vigorously in the amniotic fluid, while attached to the wall by the umbilical cord. The tiny human was perfectly developed, with long, tapering fingers, feet and toes. The baby was extremely alive and did not look at all like the photos and drawings of 'embryos' which I have seen. When the sac was opened, the tiny human immediately lost its life… Paul E. Rockwell, M.D.

14 Abortion: some methods Vacuum aspiration Curettage Late-term surgical methods Abortifacients Under anaesthetic the cervix is gradually widened by probes, suction tubes rupture the amniotic sac and suck the unborn human life out a piece at a time. Instead of a suction tube, a curette (scraping tool) removes the unborn human foetus piecemeal For late-second trimester abortions onward, D&E (Dilation and Evacuation) and, for very late abortions, D&X (Dilation and Extraction) methods are sometimes used Various chemical methods that prevent the pregnancy continuing e.g. the morning after pill or chemically induced miscarriage

15 Abortion: the hard cases He was a healthy little boy and Mirveta had produced him. But birth, the fifth in her short lifetime, had not brought joy, only dread. As he was pulled from her loins, the young Albanian mother took the child and prepared to do the deed. She cradled him to her chest, she looked into her boy's eyes, she stroked his face and she snapped his neck. They say it was a fairly clean business. Mirveta had used her bare hands. It is said that, in tears, she handed her baby back to the nurses, holding his snapped, limp neck. In Pristina, in her psychiatric detention cell, she has been weeping ever since. 'Who knows? She may have looked into the baby's face and seen the eyes of the Serb who raped her.’ Observer newspaper, 16/05/2000

16 Different reactions… "When I gave birth to her, I didn't want to see her...but on the second day, when I took her to my breast, I realised that she was the only beauty remaining in this world and so I kept her." With these words Esma, a Bosnian waitress, explains what made her keep her daughter Sara, 13. Esma, former medical student, became pregnant in war-torn Sarajevo in 1992 after being raped by Serb soldiers in her Grbavica home. Victims of mass rapes are being shunned by family and friends. Most of them are stigmatised and excluded from society if people around them come to know the truth. The children conceived in rapes were mostly pushed into orphanages in Bosnia or neighbouring Croatia, and in rare cases given for adoption. They grow up knowing nothing about their parents. Source:

17 Some issues and responses Backstreet Abortions? Numbers admitted to hospital after botched abortions was on the way down years before 1967. Many so-called ‘backstreet’ abortions before 1967 were done in ‘front’ streets by private practice doctors. Backstreet abortions were almost always performed early in pregnancy. Those who think abortion is wrong reject backstreet abortions along with all other abortions. Wherever or however they are performed, at least one life is ended, sometimes two. They would argue that If people are being beaten up in the back streets should we establish clinics where they can be attacked in hygienic conditions?

18 Some issues and responses Pregnant after rape/abuse? Because of the severe body trauma, pregnancy after rape is extremely rare. However, it does happen. Mass rape was part of the Serbian terror tactics in the Balkan war over a decade ago. This produced a number of rape children. Proponents argue that the continuing pregnancy can only be an terrible reminder of a terrible ordeal. Those who think abortion is wrong would argue that the violence of abortion will only add to the trauma of rape. As it is, post-abortion trauma/depression is a common occurrence. It could get far worse. They would also argue that the developing child should not be punished for the crime of his or her father.

19 Some issues and responses Health risk or disability? Proponents argue that a woman should have access to abortion when her health is threatened by the pregnancy. They also argue that severely disabled unborn human lives should be terminated. In 2004, 1% of abortions were because of risk of handicap; 1% because of a health threat to the woman. Those who think abortion is wrong would say that for health threats, inducing a birth is safer than abortion. They would also argue that we are showing a vicious prejudice against disabled people. It makes the womb by far the most dangerous place for disabled people in the western world.

20 Christian views Catholic Church “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” Catechism of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church takes an absolute stance against abortion St Peter’s Church, Vatican Pope Benedict XVI Spiritual Leader of Catholics

21 Christian views Anglican Church "All human life, including life developing in the womb, is created by God in his own image and is therefore to be nurtured, supported and protected” However, the Anglican Church sometimes sees abortion as a less evil alternative in certain grave circumstances Other Christians, for example, Methodists, have similar views on this issue Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury He is not a ‘pope’ of the Anglican Church

22 The Bible No passage which says: “Though shall not commit abortion”… However, there are references that get across the belief that human life exists from the earliest moment of a pregnancy… "You created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb" Psalm 139 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”. Jeremiah 1:4,5 Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:41

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