Medicine: Abortion, Legal & Illegal

Every year a million abortions are performed in the U.S., and 99% of them are illegal. Back-room operations, they endanger a woman's health and life. Some 8,000 are done by physicians in hospitals, with a semblance of legality, but even this is often a fiction. The law in virtually all 50 states declares that a therapeutic abortion is permissible only to save the mother's life. In some hospitals, doctors construe this liberally and do an abortion if the woman threatens suicide, especially if she is unmarried or has been raped.

Last week the prestigious, 3,000-member New York Academy of Medicine reported in...

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