Chapter  8:    Abortion

Section 1. Case Presentation

An educated person who would be a careful and critical thinker would want to accept the need to clarify the meaning or meanings of the key terms (words) being used in the discussion of whatever the topic is.  With the topic of abortion there are two terms that may need some clarifications.  With this topic there is a need to look into the meaning of the terms “sex” and “abortion’


In the use of this word when discussing abortion the meaning is mainly in reference to a person’s physical nature and not the act of physical interactions amongst humans.

Many believe that there are but two sexes when referring to the physical nature of a human being and that they are termed “male” and “Female”.  Is this true?

That would now depend on what determines the “sex” of a person.  One way is to look at the physical constituents of the human being and in particular the chromosomes.

If a person would take some time to think about this and to look into it then it is not hard at all to realize that the physical record is not so simple and supporting the idea that there are only two configurations. 

There are many sources of research and simple careful observation that indicates that it is not true that there are only two configurations whether looking at the physical body or looking at the chromosomes of a human being.

How is sex determined?

Consider: Shifting syndromes: Sex chromosome variations and intersex classifications

David Andrew Griffiths    at

 Clinicians had previously followed a taxonomy divided into: 1. Females; 2. Males; 3. Female pseudohermaphrodites (some male, mixed or ambiguous sex characteristics present with ovaries and XX chromosomes); 4. Male pseudohermaphrodites (some female, mixed or ambiguous sex characteristics present with testes and XY chromosomes); and 5. True hermaphrodites (presence of an ovotestis, or both a testis and an ovary).  This classification system, based on the tissue structure of the gonads, is referred to as the Klebs taxonomy or Klebs system, after 19th century pathologist Theodor Albrecht Edwin Klebs (Dreger, 1998). Dreger et al.’s paper questioned both the scientific value and practical clinical benefit of basing classifications in gonadal differences, suggesting instead a practice of classifying individual specific diagnoses under an umbrella term of ‘disorders of sexual differentiation’.

X & Y Chromosomal Variations Are Common But Frequently Undiagnosed

The Focus Foundation is the first and only research-based non-profit foundation exclusively dedicated to identifying and helping children who have X & Y Chromosomal Variations, Dyslexia, Developmental Dyspraxia. The X & Y Variations include 47, XXY OR Klinefelter Syndrome, 47, XYY (Jacob’s Syndrome) , 47, XXX (Triple X).

There are several variant disorders which include Tetrasomy X, Pentasomy X, 49, XXXX, 48, XXXY, 48, XXYY, and 49, XXXXY. Although Physicians, ancillary health care providers and Physical and Occupational Therapists as well as Speech and Language Pathologists are taught that genetic abnormalities typically impact on a child’s neurodevelopmental progression, practitioners often receive insufficient information about X and Y chromosomal disorders or information may be outdated or inaccurate.

The Focus Foundation’s research efforts are committed to educating health professionals throughout the world regarding X and Y Chromosomal Variations, dyslexia and developmental dyspraxia. All three disorders are common but rarely identified and early treatment promotes recovery and optimal development. Therefore, identifying and treating these children is very important for them and their families.=============================================================================


While the word can be used to indicate several different things the most popular are presented in works such as the definition in the Merriam Webster Dictionary

: the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus: such as

a spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation

compare miscarriage

b  : induced expulsion of a human fetus

c : expulsion of a fetus by a domestic animal often due to infection at any time before completion of pregnancy

compare contagious abortion

2 a: misshapen thing or person : monstrosity

   b:informal + sometimes offensive : something regarded as horrifically or disgustingly bad

3: arrest of development (as of a part or process) resulting in imperfection

 A mission can be aborted as can the launch of a rocket and the meaning is simply to halt the activity.  There are also legal definitions of abortion.

For medical ethics discussions the meanings are confined to the medical definitions and even then there are several different senses of the word.  When people discuss abortion as a moral issue it appears the meanings are confined to termination of pregnancies.  Even then there are multiple meanings beyond the simple : termination of a pregnancy.

  • The accidental termination of a pregnancy: miscarriage
  • The natural termination of a pregnancy prematurely: spontaneous abortion or miscarriage
  • The deliberate termination of a pregnancy
  • The deliberate termination of a pregnancy for the purpose of saving a life: therapeutic abortion
  • The deliberate termination of a pregnancy for the purpose of terminating fetal development
  • Therapeutic medical abortion done because the pregnant woman has a health condition threatening the life of the pregnant woman.
  • Therapeutic medical abortion done because the development in utero presents a health condition threatening the life of the fetus.
  • Elective abortion is done because a woman chooses (elects) to end the pregnancy.

There are different methods for deliberately ending a pregnancy.  As technologies have progressed the most popular has become a chemical, pharmaceutical means via pills.  There are problems in the USA as the laws are not uniform across all states and in some locations various means are illegal.  There are also moral considerations that impact the availability of various means for performing abortions.


DESCRIPTION: Walmart has discontinued the sale of the morning after pill. They state it was a business decision. Preven, the leading manufacture of the morning after pill will no longer be disturbed do to ethical reasoning of the Walmart Corporation.

For the promotion of emergency birth control procedures such as Preven and Plan B see this site:

For opposition to such measures see this site

The history of abortion in the United States

  • 1859: The American Medical Association (AMA) condemns abortion except as necessary to preserve the life of either the mother or child (?)
  • 1875: Every state in the United States has adopted laws banning abortion.
  • 1916: Margaret Sanger forms the Birth Control League (now Planned Parenthood) to promote contraception and abortion.
  • 1959: The American Law Institute (ALI) proposes the "Model Penal Code" urging that abortion be performed in licensed hospitals when necessary to preserve the mental or physical health of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.
  • 1965: Griswold v. Connecticut. Supreme Court hands down decision that legalizes contraception and defines the "right to privacy."
  • 1967: Colorado becomes the first state to allow abortion for cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother's life.
  • 1970: Fourteen states were allowing abortion in certain circumstances.
  • 1973: Roe v. Wade. Stating that a constitutional "right to privacy" exists that protects a woman's decision to have an abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes abortion on demand. The Court permits states to outlaw abortions from viability until birth (third trimester) except when necessary to preserve the mother's life or health.
  • 1973: Doe v. Bolton. The Supreme Court defines "health" (of the mother) to include all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age. This basically allows a woman to have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy and for any reason.
  • 1976: Planned Parenthood Association of Central Missouri v. Danforth. A Missouri abortion law, requiring the consent of parents in the case of minors, and husbands in the case of a married woman, is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
  • 1992: Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. This decision outlaws any restrictions that "impose an undue burden" on a woman's "right" to an abortion.
  • 1993: President Bill Clinton signs five executive orders into effect, allowing fetal tissue research and harvesting, RU486 research, abortion counseling in federally funded family planning clinics and abortion services in U.S. military hospitals.
  • 1994: President Clinton signs into law the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrance Act (FACE), which respects the first amendment rights of pro-lifers to peacefully protest, demonstrate and provide sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics but attempts to place safeguards against unlawful acts of intimidation and violence conducted against medical workers, neither of which are constitutionally protected or ethically acceptable..
  • 2000: Stenberg v. Carhart. On a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court declared that Nebraska's partial birth abortion law unconstitutionally placed an undue burden on a woman's so-called right to a late term abortion.
  • 2022: DOBBS v. JACKSON WOMEN’S HEALTH ORGANIZATION  On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, overturning Roe v. Wade, eliminating the federal standard protecting the right to abortion. Across the nation, states reacted by implementing bans or protecting access to abortion.

Abortion cases in the United States Supreme Court

Upheld protest-free floating "bubble zones" around abortion clinics.

  • 2022: DOBBS v. JACKSON WOMEN’S HEALTH ORGANIZATION June 24, 2022 overturning Roe v. Wade, eliminating the federal standard protecting the right to abortion. Across the nation, states reacted by implementing bans or protecting access to abortion.

Sample of Cases that involve the Abortion Issue:

A. Parents' rights vis a vis their pregnant daughter(12 years old) threat to life of daughter, refusal on religious grounds and the court rules for daughter

B. RU-486 PILL: the "morning after pill" now being made available.

C. The use of the drug Thalidomide that caused abnormal fetuses and requests for abortions

D. Availability of Pregnancy Tests: 7 to 10 days after fertilization


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© Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.

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