Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963879 | Print ISBN: 9781412926942 | Online ISBN: 9781412963879| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Heather D. Boonstra
For nearly half a century, abortion has been a dominant issue in U.S. social and political discourse. Beneath the surface discussion are concerns over human life, family, sexuality, and women's self-determination and role in society. At the same time, induced abortion remains an extremely common medical procedure in the United States, primarily because unintended pregnancy in the country remains pervasive. Each year, just under half of all pregnancies—some 3 million—are unplanned, and just under half of these pregnancies—1.3 million—end in abortion. At current rates, one in every three U.S. women will have an abortion at some point in her life. Abortion, both legal and illegal, has long been part of life in the United States. Indeed, the legal status of abortion has passed through several distinct phases in U.S. history. Generally permitted at the nation's founding and for several decades thereafter, the procedure was made illegal under most circumstances in ...