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Race and Gender - Abortion

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Essay title: Race and Gender - Abortion

Brian Kesser

Race and Gender


Should a woman have a choice? This is the question that has plagued

governments the world over for more than a century. Today, in the United States, she

does. It was not always this way though. It was not until 1973 that women could legally

choose whether or not to give birth to their unborn fetuses in the United States. This

subject strikes a sore spot primarily for religious groups all over the world. So should a

woman be given the right to choose her fate and the fate of the child inside her? If that

right is taken away will she find alternate means? How do we decide where the line

should be drawn between that what we believe is right and the freedoms we so cherish?

In the 1890’s doctors estimated that there were two million abortions per year.

Today there a one and a half. (Feminist, 2) Determined woman throughout the world and

throughout the ages have always found ways to terminate unwanted pregnancies by

whatever means they could. This fact alone tells us that this is not an issue that we

can just sweep under the rug and forget. There have always been available options by

which women could end a pregnancy, some of them are just more grotesque than others.

The “Coat hanger Effect” has been used to describe what can happen when

abortion is made illegal. Women have all too often subjected themselves to

voluntary sodomy with such crude instruments as coat hangers, sowing needles, curtain

rods, ice picks and even bicycle pumps. An estimated five percent of all criminal

abortions were performed by the woman herself (Abortion Practices, 2&3). That averages

out to about one hundred thousand per year.

Physical mutilation was not the only means used before legalization. Women

often used lye products, pine oil, drain cleaners and even bleach. Some relied on

overdosing on strong prescription drugs. This kind of gives a new ring to the phrase “Pick

your poison”. The fact of the matter is from 1950 to 1970 well over a thousand women

died from criminal abortions in the United States alone. Pro-life activists say that eighty-

nine percent of all illegal abortions in the United States were performed by

physicians (Abortion Practices, 1). If this number is correct, why were so many women

dying? Medical practices have obviously evolved over the last thirty years, but what kind

of “Doctors” were doing these procedures? Many women could not afford a skilled

abortionist so they went to whomever told them that they knew how and could do it for

cheep, but money was not always the only form of payment required. Sexual servitude

was also a common method of affording such a procedure. In 1969 seventy-five percent

of the women who died from abortions in the U.S. were women of color (Feminist, 3).

Because of its deep rooted religious facets, abortion has always been a major

media hot button. With the outcome of Roe vs. Wade on January 22, 1973 legalizing

abortion, a door was opened that has allowed for public controversy to flourish in all

aspects of media. Many a magazine cover or

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