As I had expected, my previous post struck some nerves, apparently. And also as I had expected, it has raised more questions and debate than it laid to rest. At this point, I intend to elaborate on my previous “Big Ugly” abortion post in three additional posts focusing on specific angles: a primer of terms (this post), misconceptions, and the law of it. Of course, I encourage and welcome discussion. (Just forgive me if I am slow to respond since the next couple days (and weeks) will be pretty busy for me.)
Terms of Life
In order to help minimize arguments based on semantics, I would like to clarify some of the terms generally tossed around relating to the abortion debate.
Abortion – Wikipedia defines abortion as “the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death.” Though an abortion can occur naturally due to complications, I will use it solely to refer to induced abortions. Should the subject of a natural or spontaneous abortion arise, I will refer to it as a “miscarriage.”
Pro-Life – Generally used interchangeably with anti-abortion, pro-life traditionally refers specifically to human life. Wikipedia states: “The term describes the political and ethical view which maintains that fetuses and embryos are human beings, and therefore have a right to live.” I have heard arguments that individuals are personally concurrently pro-life and pro-choice; for the sake of clarity, let’s limit “pro-life” to the belief that all human life, from conception to natural death, should be protected by law.
Pro-Choice – According to Wikipedia, pro-choice as the “view that a woman should have complete control over her fertility and the choice to continue or terminate a pregnancy.” As I state above, some people claim to be pro-life and pro-choice concurrently; for the sake of clarity, I will limit “pro-choice” to refer to those who believe a woman’s productive “rights” should be protected over the rights of an unborn child.
Pro-Abortion – In favor of abortion. Generally, this term is used interchangeably with pro-choice. I have found, however, that most pro-choice people are not actually in favor of abortion itself, just the “right” for “someone else” to have one. In the event that it comes up in this or subsequent blogs, it will refer specifically to proponents of abortion. Like maybe this guy.
Medical Abortion – Abortion by means of drugs or a combination of drugs.
Surgical Abortion – This is the ending of a pregnancy by surgical means, such as MVA, D&C, Saline Abortion or Partial Birth Abortion.
Late-Term Abortion – As the term suggests, a Late-Term Abortion is an abortion performed late in the pregnancy. Sources differ in what “late” refers to, with some stating “after 12 weeks,” others saying “after 16 weeks,” and the majority stating it refers to “after 20 weeks.” Should the issue come up, I will consider it to mean “after 20 weeks gestation.”
Partial Birth Abortion – Formally known as intact dilation and extraction or IDX, partial birth abortion has been used for late-term abortions.
Saline Abortion – Saline Abortion is a term occasionally used to refer to the broader term “Instillation abortion.” Instillation abortion is a method used during the second and third trimesters, by injecting a chemical (such as saline) solution into the amniotic fluid to cause uterine contractions. The chemical solution burns the baby before causing the mother to expel the child.
Manual Vacuum aspiration (MVA) – Abortion by means of a vacuum used to literally suck the baby from the mother’s womb. This is the most common type of abortion and is generally used in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Dilation and curettage (D&C) – According to Wikipedia, D&C is “the second most common method of abortion, is a standard gynecological procedure performed for a variety of reasons, including examination of the uterine lining for possible malignancy, investigation of abnormal bleeding, and abortion.” This is generally limited to the first trimester or approximately 13 weeks of pregnancy.
Roe V. Wade – The landmark Supreme Court decision of January 22, 1973, which has shaped debate about abortion in America ever since. Google it for the details if you’re not familiar with it, or click the term for the Wikipedia entry.
Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) – Wikipedia sums up the FOCA as “a bill in the United States Congress which, if enacted, would abolish all restrictions and limitations on the right of women in the United States to have an abortion, whether at the State or Federal level.” By eliminating all restrictions and limitations, the FOCA would also “nullify the types of abortion laws that the Supreme Court has said are permitted under Roe v. Wade.” (Johnson)
Born Alive Infants Protection Act – An act of Congress to protect infants who were born alive as a result of an induced abortion.
Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (PBA Ban) – A United States law prohibiting abortion by means of IDX.