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Wednesday, 27 July 2011


In the Middle Ages if a pregnant woman was having pains, it was often thought it was because she had kittens crawling inside her womb as a result of a witches curse. As a result abortions were often allowed by courts in order to remove these cats from the womb. The phrase “Someone is having kittens” originates from this.

The first reference to abortion in English law appeared in the 13th century, when the law followed Church teaching that abortion was acceptable until “quickening”. This, it was believed, was when the soul entered the foetus at around 13 weeks.

The first law making abortion illegal in Britain was the 1803 Malicious Shooting or Stabbing Act.

Iceland became the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion on January 28, 1935.

In Britain, the Abortion Act legalised abortion, making it free on demand and available on the National Health Service in 1967.

In America the Supreme Court decisions in Roe v Wade and the lesser known Doe v. Bolton, both on January 22, 1973, overturned all state laws restricting abortion. As a result abortions became legal during the first six months of pregnancy. Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States into pro-choice and pro-life camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides.

The picture below shows Rep. Albert Wynn (left) and Gloria Feldt (right), President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, on the steps of the Supreme Court, rallying in support of the pro-choice movement on the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

In 2005 it was calculated that there were three abortions in the UK for every ten births-a total of 190,000 terminations in England and Wales every year. The average British woman will have 2.2 healthy pregnancies in her lifetime, but will give birth to only 1.7 children. The number of abortions accounts for the difference. This is not enough to keep the UK population stable.

It is estimated that, in India, 100,000 abortions are performed every year solely because the fetus is female.

In El Salvador, it is illegal to have an abortion under any circumstances including rape, incest, or harm to the mother or child.

Source  Britain In Numbers: The Essential Statistics

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