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Check Wikipedia for a long article on abortion covering topics such as Methods of abortion and physical side effects.
Current legal status and former laws
The current legal status of abortion in the United States is based on the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.  This ruling states that abortion is legal prior to the third trimester of pregnancy, after which time a state may regulate the procedure, balancing a fetus's right to life and a woman's right to control her body. After viability, the state's interest in fetal protection increases, and a state may more heavily regulate abortion.
In the early part of 20th Century almost every state had banned all forms of abortion in all cases; outside of necessity to preserve the life of the mother, abortion was prohibited. In the 1960s, states passed less restrictive laws allowing for abortion in cases of rape and incest or "other felonious intercourse." 
While Ronald Reagan was Governor, California passed one of the most liberal abortion laws, following a decision by the California Supreme Court that existing law was unconstitutional. In 1970 New York changed its laws to allow for legal elective abortions performed by a licensed physician for the first 24 weeks. This statute's constitutionality was upheld by the New York Court of Appeals (5-2) in Byrn v. New York City Health & Hospitals Corp., 31 N.Y.2d 194, 286 N.Y.2d 194 (1972). (Note subsequent decline in mortality rate for pregnant women following legalization of abortion in New York.)
In 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States decided Roe v. Wade which is the current law of the land overturning any other state laws regarding abortion.
STUB: Parental Consent laws
Politically, this is a highly charged issue. Even the two labels - "Pro-Choice" and "Pro-Life" are framed in such a way that the opponents would object to the opposite meaning of the framing (i.e., anti-choice or anti-life).
There are many Pro-Choice liberals that strongly object to abortion on personal and moral grounds. They would never have one, participate in one, or counsel a loved one to have one. Their belief is simply that it should not be illegal - that a moral or philosophical belief does not equate to a legal mandate.
Other Pro-Choice liberals believe that abortion is a valid and moral choice for women seeking to keep control over their lives, choices, and futures and that abortion rights are an essential prerequisite to equality for women as citizens and as humans.
In an ideal world, it might be the case that the Anti-Abortion lobby could agree with the Pro-Choice view that all children should be wanted children, should be well fed, kept, and have health insurance and educational facilities. "Rare and legal" is a position which tries to unify along such grounds. Though the phrase can also be code words for regressive legislation, it can also be a sincere sentiment intending to find a common ground on a moral issue which will no doubt continue to divide us on some levels.
Intensive political action surrounding abortion has had added a strong political character to other issues which at first glance seem to have only a tangential relationship to abortion itself. These issues include stem cell research, murders and assaults directed at pregnant women, the appropriate legal approach to children born to women who abused drugs while pregnant, end of life decision-making, the jurisdiction of the federal courts, the appointment of judges to the federal courts, the relative roles of state and the federal government in the federal system, the prescription drug status of emergency contraception, sex education, health benefits for members of the military, international aid for family planning and public health, welfare rules for mothers who have additional children while on welfare, the dischargeability of debts incurred by abortion protestors in bankruptcy, and every other issue that can possibly have any connection to the abortion issue.
External Links: Pro-Choice Rights
- clinics and providers
- Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc
- International Planned Parenthood Federation
- National Abortion Federation - professional association of abortion providers in the US and Canada
- Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health
- Medical Students for Choice
- Abortion Clinics OnLine
- Abortion Clinic Pages
- policy, research, and legal
- general advocacy and activism (including access projects and funds)
- religious and faith organizations
- media, blogs, personal sites, etc.
External Links: Anti-Abortion
- American Life League
- Democrats for Life
- National Right to Life
- Feminists for Life of America
- Pharmacists for Life International
Daily Kos Diaries
These diaries were singled out in a comment by "Beket".
- Abortion, the Movies, and the Politics of '08 by "Frederick Clarkson", June 21, 2007
- Maiden diary on difficult issue of "abortion care" by "Readrock", June 10, 2007
- Abortion: Why Compromise Isn’t Possible by "irishwitch", June 9, 2007
- Repeal All Abortion Laws by "choice joyce", June 6, 2007
- Inquisition lives. Just ask a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. by "Beket", June 3, 2007
- Contraception--because we care about raising our kids well! by LisaLL, May 31, 2007
- My Moral Choice by "docswede", May 31, 2007
- WHY I PROVIDE ABORTIONS by "william f harrison", May 31, 2007
- In the Dark About Sex by "AlliHi" (abortion care provider and educator), May 25, 2007
- Abortion Rights 101:Abortion rights good; restrictions bad ! Get over the nonsense to the contrary ! by "Beket", May 14, 2007
- The hidden TRAP behind "Safe, Legal and Rare" by "moiv", March 7, 2005