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Abortion is one of the most controversial bioethical issues of our time Throughout history the moral values concerning abortion have been matters of ceaseless debate and disagreement but in the past three decades the debate has intensified One view--known as pro-life--sees abortion as the slaughter of innocent life Pro-lifers march with pictures of mutilated fetuses on their posters The other view--pro-choice--considers abortion an option that must be available to women in order for them to have control over their own bodies Pro-choicers use a bloody coat-hanger as their symbol of the days when women didnt have this option At the heart of the controversy of course is the debate over when human life actually begins Does it begin at the moment of conception At 4-6 weeks when the heart begins to beat and brain waves can first be detected At 3 months when the fetus begins to resemble a baby At 4-5 months when life can be felt by the mother At 24 weeks when the fetus is viable ie able to live outside the womb Or at birth when the umbilical cord is cut and the baby is physically separated from his mother The Pro-Lifers believe that life begins at conception while most Pro-Choicers believe life begins at birth No compromise appears possible for such differing viewpoints The ethical issues concerning abortion are closely related to the safety of the procedure Prior to 1973 when US laws restricted abortion women resorted to having them done by untrained people Opponents of abortion pointed to the frequent harm caused to women including death from infection as well as risks to future pregnancies Abortion has been practiced around the world since ancient times Although most religions forbade the practice abortion was not considered illegal in most countries until the 1800s There were laws during this time however that banned abortion after quickening--that is the time that fetal movement can first be felt In 1803 England banned all
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