Abortion policy: an evaluation of the consequences for by Jerome S. Legge

By Jerome S. Legge

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Extra info for Abortion policy: an evaluation of the consequences for maternal and infant health

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At this point some value judgments must be made, for the criterion by which we hope to judge abortion policy is inevitably a value-laden decision. Exactly which ''consequences" of abortion policy for a given society are legitimate indicators by which to judge it? We contend that a legitimate and worthwhile set of indicators is the infant and maternal health system of a society. Specifically, there are four germane measures: the impact that a given policy has on abortion deaths, the maternal mortality rate, the infant mortality rate, and the fetal death ratio.

32 Fetal death has presented more of a possible problem than abortion in the epidemiological literature. Most of the uncertainty over the concept is when to count an interruption of pregnancy as a fetal death and when as an abortion. 33 Fortunately, the ICD standardized the relevant period as being at twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy or more, and the concept is defined as a late fetal death. Specifically, fetal death is death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy; the death is indicated by the fact that after such separation the fetus does not breathe or show any other signs of life, such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite Page 14 movement of voluntary muscles.

In the field of political science, for example, the extensive use of quantitative methods employed during the 1960s was increasingly viewed Page 5 as being inadequate because of their frequent neglect of any normative framework. This concern led to the application of quantitative methods in relation to more value-oriented questions which resulted in what some have called the era of "post-behavioralism" in political science. 8 The field of sociology, like political science, became more concerned during and after the Great Society campaign with society's shortcomings in solving its social problems.

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