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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  1. Should we add or expand coverage of a particular aspect of abortion?
    It is likely that we have already done so. There was so much information on abortion that we decided to split it all into separate articles. This article is concise because we've tried to create an overview of the entire topic here by summarizing many of these more-detailed articles. The goal is to give readers the ability to pick the level of detail that best suits their needs. If you're looking for more detail, check out some of the other articles related to abortion.
  2. This article seems to be on the long side. Should we shorten it?
    See above. The guidelines on article length contain exceptions for articles which act as "starting points" for "broad subjects." Please see the archived discussion "Article Length."
  3. Should we include expert medical or legal advice about abortions?
    No. Wikipedia does not give legal or medical advice. Please see Wikipedia:Medical disclaimer and Wikipedia:Legal disclaimer for more information.
  4. Should we include or link to pictures of fetuses and/or the end products of abortion?
    No consensus. See the huge RfC on this topic in 2009 here. Consistently, there has been little support for graphic "shock images"; while images were added in 2009 the topic remains contentious, and some images have been removed.
  5. Should we include an image in the lead?
    No consensus. Numerous images have been proposed for the article lead. However, no image achieved consensus and the proposal that garnered a majority of support is to explicitly have no image in the lead.
Former good article Abortion was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
News This article has been mentioned by a media organisation:
edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Abortion:
  • Source and write a sub-section on compulsory abortion for "Social issues" (see To-Do Items for a draft).
  • Discuss potential summary section of Religion and abortion article.
  • CORRECT MAP KEY on main "Abortion Law" page. Right now the dark blue means abortion is illegal in all circumstances and North America, Europe, and Russia are all dark blue (it shows up in the correct colors on the other "Abortion Law" page).Bethlibart (talk) 17:28, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
  • new data available on CDC website for abortions by gestation age
Archive Index
Topical subpages


Notable precedents in discussion

More Contraception Means Fewer Abortions, Study Finds[edit] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ocdcntx (talkcontribs) 00:43, 24 December 2014 (UTC)


The article is devoid of any mention of changes in speciation that occur before during or after fertilization. Many presumably human zygotes are not comprised of fully human genetic materials. There appear to be changes attributable to Speciation As a result there are a large number of zygotes that do not live past the first trimester. For that reason there is a stage before/during/after creation of a zygote where speciation occurs. If the gametes contain flawed genetic materials before, after or during fusion of the haploids then the diploid can be a different species. [1] (other sources estimate that 42 percent of conceptions are genetically flawed) Russell Crawford (talk) 04:25, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

I think you're confused about the concept of speciation. Humans may be born with various forms of aneuploidy (that is, an abnormal number of chromosomes). But their genetic material is human; it is simply present in abnormal amounts or ratios. If you think about this for a moment, it should be obvious. People with Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, or any of the other common forms of aneuploidy are clearly human and members of our species, despite the fact that they don't have 46 chromosomes. I have no idea what you mean when you say that many zygotes "are not comprised of fully human genetic materials". MastCell Talk 04:45, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

Changes in the DNA (chromosomes) of the human species that alter its ability to function as a human imply that the "altered zygote" is the start of a new species, not the continuation of the existing species. The change is a sign of speciation. If the alteration in species is unable to live as homo sapiens because of excessive genetic flaws, it is not homo sapiens but the start of a new species. (For example there is a 95-99 percent genetic match among chimps and humans. A one percent change in genetic makeup is sufficient to change Chimpanzee too human.}

With regard to the Downs humans: The changes that occur in some Downs humans in non-disjunction are only a small fraction of those possible. Some non-disjunctions lead to living Downs humans and others do not. Further, there are an unlimited number of errors that can occur in DNA replication. Those errors frequently cannot produce human life. In fact as many as 42 percent of conceptions are so flawed that they cannot produce human life. It would seem to me that any errors in replication or other flaws that do not lead to human life, are not in fact human life, but examples of speciation.

The importance of speciation cannot be over emphasized. The current model of the beginning of human life "assumes" that there is "only" human genetic materials at fertilization. Of course that is false. The fact is that the zygote is more likely to produce non human life than an eventual born human life. Some sources indicate that 70 percent of conceptions fail in the first trimester and of those that fail, 60 percent die due to genetic flaw. This means that the idea that conception is the "0" point of life is false. The correct point would be when the life can first be proved to have sufficient human genetic materials to produce human life, at birth.

Please furnish a citation for this claim: "or any of the other common forms of aneuploidy are clearly human and members of our species, despite the fact that they don't have 46 chromosomes."Russell Crawford (talk) 22:52, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

A brief search of the literature shows me that there is no support for your view that speciation is a significant element of the topic of abortion. I don't think there is any need to add text about speciation. Binksternet (talk) 00:43, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

If you were searching "speciation and abortion", you will not find any information. However this page deals with the issue here: "Generally, the former position argues that a human fetus is a human being with a right to live, making abortion morally the same as murder." So the issue is presented on the site with no mention of opposing views that scientifically disprove that claim. There are large numbers of people that believe the zygote is no more than a "clump of cells" and their position is supported by scientific evidence of speciation. It is a scientific fact that every instance of conception contains genetic flaws that alter the DNA of the zygote. Those changes are being hidden within the text of your article. I am fine with not calling the changes speciation if you have a more acceptable explanation. But to imply that the fetus is without dispute human is wrong. And in fact the oldest and most important argument against abortion is that the fetus is not a human life. The false argument currently espoused by the pro life side is that there is universal agreement that the fetus is "always" human life. The scientific evidence is that it is not. The use of this source to propagate and advertise a false statement is simply deceitful. If this page is to remain neutral it should present a balanced view. The scientific papers I have cited prove that all DNA is altered and that the result of the alterations can lead to speciation. Russell Crawford (talk) 15:21, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

How about proposing an edit, complete with wp:MEDRS sources? That is after all the purpose of this talk page. LeadSongDog come howl! 17:06, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

Anne Sexton[edit]

Yo, let's talk about this poem. Anne Sexton is obviously a significant poet. If that alone does not merit adding a mention of the poem here, how much critical literature on the poem would justify adding it? (There is some, see GBooks.) I have no real position one way or another, but let's actually talk about the standards we're trying to meet. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 06:48, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

A significant poem with respect to abortion? I would say its presentation here was undue weight. Maybe on a subpage. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 09:27, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
Well thank you, Roscelese, very much, for raising the subject. To the Doctor I must say that I'm a bit surprised because when I first entered the material regarding the Anne Sexton poem, you simply said that I needed a better source than the literary blog that I had used [2]. Now you say that its presentation is "undue weight." Is that because using important literary figures rather than lightweight ones gives the section too much weight? I rather suspect that it is precisely because of the weight, or impact, that Sexton's words might have on the reader that you object to my edit.
To the editor who last deleted my edit, Binksternet, I was wryly amused at his description "a little known Sexton poem." Perhaps elsewhere among his apparently mass-produced edits he has complained about references to minor Shakespearean dramas, obscure Dickens novels, and insignificant Velazquez portraits. It would seem to me that in an article that talks about a man exhibiting a human fetus with wings as art, and a "writer" having 15 abortions in 17 years (or was it 17 abortions in 15 years), there should be enough room for a poem by Anne Sexton. KatieHepPal (talk) 18:55, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
I see that I must have copied the wrong URL address for DocJames's deletion of my edit. Sorry, but it should be easy enough to find. KatieHepPal (talk) 19:13, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
What would be a better source would be a review of the literature on abortion. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:52, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
No, Doc; the source that I've provided is an excellent one, a website created by the New York University School of Medicine for medical humanities [3] [4]. In contrast, many of the other "art, literature, and film" entries in this article are referenced only to the work itself (primary rather than secondary sources) or are simply linked to Wikipedia articles. KatieHepPal (talk) 20:57, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree that a notable poem by Anne Sexton on topic of abortion does not seem to constitute undue weight in the Art, literature and film section of this article. It seems every bit as relevant as an episode of Law & Order or the movie Dirty Dancing, if not more so. However, the ending line of poem "this baby that I bleed" seemed too POV to include in main article about abortion, so I trimmed that part. --BoboMeowCat (talk) 22:45, 29 December 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────There are lots of literature works tackling the issue of abortion. If we are going to include any of them, we should be talking about the context rather than simply quoting the work. The context should be telling the reader something about how the abortion issue was seen by the writer or by society. We can say, for instance, that Sexton wrote about masturbation, menstruation and abortion in the early 1960s when it was quite unusual, or we can group Sexton with Jan Beatty, Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks and Lucille Clifton to give an example of pioneering writers who covered abortion.[5][6] Or we can say that various pieces of abortion literature are used to acquaint medical students with the feelings that have been expressed about abortion.[7] Or we can say that certain poems lamenting abortion have been considered a form of personal mourning by writers who are pro-choice.[8] What we must not do is just quote a piece of literature for its shock effect, which is my impression of KatieHepPal's original contribution. I classify that as WP:Disrupting Wikipedia to make a point. Binksternet (talk) 00:21, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

@ BoboMeowCat. I really don't disagree with your revision of my last article edit. I did not include the "baby . . . bleed" quote when I first introduced the Sexton poem, but the second time around the new source that I used had emphasized it.
@ Binsternet. I don't at all see my edit as "pointy", young man. As I've just read it, "pointy" would mean doing something disruptive based on an understanding, or misunderstanding, of Wikipedia policy. For example when DocJames asked me to find a better source for my edit, had I then removed everything in the "Art, literature, and film" section that did not have a bona fide secondary source (many of them don't), THAT would have been "pointy." Instead, I simply found a better source as he had instructed. When you subsequently removed my edit based on your bizarre notion that the "little known Sexton poem is not significant," had I then removed everything in the section that I found insignificant, THAT, TOO, would have been "pointy." Instead, I joined the discussion that Roscelese had opened on the issue, and when you apparently were uninterested in defending your edit, I restored the one that I had made. No, young fellow, the only disruption that my edit caused was to your political sensibility.
That being said, I am glad to see that you NOW seem to have ambitious plans for a section of the article that you might not have been formerly interested in, telling us that "our job is to determine what are the main points, the most important parts of the literature" on abortion. That is good, because prior to my edit, the section had rather been sitting there like an unappetizing mulligan stew of randomly selected "factoids." I can now take consolation in the prospect of you incorporating your impressive knowledge of the literature on abortion to improve the section and article. . . if you can tear yourself away from what seems like an obsession with bad music and bad musicians. We will all be looking forward to it . . . ready to deliver praise and/or potshots as your work so merits. KatieHepPal (talk) 17:47, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
Chill, please, both of you. The point about finding secondary sources for the stuff that's already included is worth taking. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 19:42, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

Don't be buffaloed[edit]

Unconstructive personal attacks redacted –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 20:37, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

As to the substance here, of course, Sexton's poem is pertinent. She is probably the best known literary figure to be introduced into the article. To keep everyone happy (except Binksternet, I suppose), you should probably find some rather innocuous material about the poem from your source, rather than those powerful quotes, and add THAT to the section instead. (talk) 19:22, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

No, I don't think I should have to make an innocuous edit for a poem that is not innocuous. Other entries in this section convey a point of view. The Cider House Rules entry presents Dr. Larch's moral justification for performing abortions. The Braided Lives entry emphasizes the dangers of illegal abortion. The material on This Common Secret reflects the author's belief that she is involved in a noble calling. Therefore, the unpretty picture that Anne Sexton paints of what was probably her own abortion should be conveyed to the reader.
Looking back in the history files for this article I see that the Arts section was added in August of 2010 without much Talk page discussion. At the time, Roscelese recommended some additional literary references to abortion that mighthave been added but they were not. Over the past several years a rather vague introductory sentence was removed. A reference to the movie Alfie was added. An episode of the TV series Law and Order was mentioned. That seems to have been about all. Until I added the Anne Sexton material no one, and certainly not Binksternet, seemed concerned with determining "the main points, the most important points, of the literature" for this section. And now Binksternet, having temporarily foiled my edit, seems about as interested in improving this section as he was before, i.e. not at all. I think we have tolerated his dog-in-the-manger attitude long enough. As with any editor he is free to add material on the literature of Jan Beatty, Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, or any other properly referenced author as he sees fit. I am restoring the edit as BoboMeowCat left it. KatieHepPal (talk) 16:02, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

Actually, that whole arts and misc. junk section severely violated undue. It was just a bunch of haphazard trivia gathered from the internet by WP editors, and has no equivalent in reliable secondary sources. It violated WP:UNDUE, WP:TRIVIA, WP:OR and WP:COATRACK. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 17:08, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

KatieHepPal's straight reversion today was disruptive as it adopted none of the changes we discussed here, especially regarding context versus straight quotes. If we are ever to have a paragraph describing poems about abortion, a better solution would be the following:

Anne Sexton's poem "The Abortion", very likely drawn from her own experience, was published in the early 1960s when abortion was rarely mentioned in poetry. Sexton's fairy-tale style poem uses the fable figure of Rumpelstiltskin to represent the abortionist.[1] An earlier poem about abortion, titled "the mother", was published in 1945 by Gwendolyn Brooks, despite she being urged by Richard Wright to omit it from the collection. Brooks' controversial poem is about a woman who had multiple abortions, and never became a mother.[2] In the 1980s and 1990s, poetry on the topic of abortion became more common, and remains a characteristic of women's literature. Lucille Clifton's 1995 "the lost baby poem" portrays the graphic experience of aborting a baby into a toilet, while her autobiographical poem "donor" (2000) depicts Clifton's unsuccessful attempt to abort her own baby in 1970.[1]

  1. ^ a b Lupton, Mary Jane (2006). Lucille Clifton: Her Life and Letters. Greenwood Publishing. pp. 6–7. ISBN 9780275984694. 
  2. ^ Falvey, Kate (2010). "The Taboo in Gwendolyn Brooks' 'the mother'". In Harold Bloom, Blake Hobby. The Taboo. Infobase. ISBN 9781438131054. 
This can be brought into a new article titled Abortion in literature, which can then be summarized here. Binksternet (talk) 17:18, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The section as it existed might have been trivia, but that doesn't mean that a section on fictional/artistic depictions of abortion would be inherently so. A number of scholarly books exist on this subject. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 17:19, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm very happy to see the section removed and I agree that it would be better addressed in a separate article. Gandydancer (talk)
What proportion of the total coverage in reliable sources on abortion consists of material pertaining to art, literature and films? A gazillionth, a bizillionth? In any case, it pales in comparison to the total, and devoting a section to it in this top level article violates WP:WEIGHT. Basically, just about any mention of this material would qualify as trivia in this article. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 04:16, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Removal of section[edit]

I find it very interesting and very revealing that the "Art, literature and film" section of the article has now been removed with little protest or comment. It had been in the article for about four and a half years. During that time none of the above editors seem to have taken much notice of it except Roscelese who thought it was a "great idea" at the time. Of course, that was when the entries in the section were either innocuous or implicitly pro-choice, and if you doubt the "implicitly pro-choice" comment take a look at the descriptions of the books Cider House Rules, Braided Lives, and This Common Secret. It was only when I tried to mention the Sexton poem, and give a bit of its flavor, that editors such as Binksternet and Doc James saw any entry as having undue weight or else lacking in sufficient context, or that editors such as Dominus Vobisdu and Gandydancer found the whole "Art, literature and film" section to be unworthy of the article.

Speaking of context, I notice that Doc James has salvaged the material on the Angkor Wat relief carvings and added it to the History section of the article. What was not included in that information when it was in the Art section of the article, and what is still not included in it, is any mention of their primary anthropological significance. According to scholars they were made either to show people the tortures of hell, or, more likely, to show people actions that would put them in hell. KatieHepPal (talk) 20:41, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for heads up User:KatieHepPal. Yeah, if I recall I just Googled notable examples; unsure if the website I relied on or "art" generally leans to the progressive. Probably both in this case. If the section was going to be fossilized pro-choice leaning (though Citizen Ruth isn't exactly glowing on abortion or its advocates), perhaps its best to be left out... at least during the GA review. My first instinct would be to refactor into a shorter section saying "abortion has appeared numerous times with variable consequences" with an abundance of footnotes. - RoyBoy 22:18, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
User:KatieHepPal, I think you're looking for a conspiracy that isn't there. The section has always contained numerous negative examples. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 00:28, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
No, I am not looking for a conspiracy, Roscelese. I don't think that the above mentioned editors are passing emails or text messages to each other about blocking my edits. Rather, what I am seeing is an interesting confluence of interests at play. Editors such as Binksternet and Doc James are so determined not to have any meaningful quote from the Sexton poem in the article that they are quite willing to see the whole section jettisoned, though they had no qualms about it prior to the dispute.
As for your "numerous negative examples" ("negative" about abortion, I presume), where are they? I really can't count the "writer" who claims to have had fifteen abortions in seventeen years because this is more of a Ripley's Believe It or Not! kind of item, interesting because of its obvious excessiveness. The only other item I saw was the rather milquetoast reference to the film Alfie which was added after the RoyBoy original. If I remember correctly, he calls himself a murderer after seeing the aborted fetus, whereas our article merely says "he was deeply affected" by it or some such thing. So, no, I really can't agree that the section has always had negative items about abortion. KatieHepPal (talk) 20:51, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
I don't really see the point of this. Are you interested in collecting secondary sources in the hopes of rebuilding a section or article in the future, or do you just want to use the talk page vent about "liberal bias"? –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 03:23, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
"Vent about liberal bias"? My Fabian forebears would be either amused or appalled. Please don't make unwarranted assumptions. My politics tend to be moderately liberal outside of certain issues concerning the family unit.
As for the removal of the arts, literature and film section, my concern is probably more about the manner of its removal than about the fact of its removal. I'm not sure that I agree that this section was a "great idea" but I do think that it was at least an acceptable idea. Dominus Vobisdu complains that it "has no equivalent in reliable secondary sources," but, of course, that is true of any material of any length here unless it has been plagiarized. Facts and opinions from a variety of sources are paraphrased and combined to form something new.
It is unlikely that any particular source will provide an all-encompassing commentary for "abortion in art, literature, and film," but, as Binksternet's above sample shows, individual sources can provide commentary for parts of the topic. Binksternet was utterly wrong, however, in opposing the use of quotations from poems. This, of course, is standard critical practice in literature. I raise the point here because if the section is revived, this will surely be an issue again. Take Care. KatieHepPal (talk) 18:43, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
You used an orphaned quote, devoid of context or analysis, to deliver your negative view of abortion. An orphaned quote presentation is not encyclopedic. Binksternet (talk) 19:28, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
If you think that the quotation was "orphaned" then you certainly had the means of providing it a home. Instead you eliminated it. A metaphor for the issue of abortion, perhaps?
Looking at your sample paragraph above above, you tend to speak around Sexton's poem rather than about Sexton's poem. The "very likely drawn from her own experience" is fine, but the "early 60s when abortion was rarely mentioned in poetry" is filler, and the "fairy-tale style poem" though coming from your source is quite misleading. We associate fairy tales with happy endings. This is more of a very dark folk tale in style. Mentioning Rumpelstilskin only helps if the reader knows or is told that Rumpelstilskin gave gold and took babies in exchange. KatieHepPal (talk) 00:18, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm going to have to ask you again to put the brakes on the dramatic rhetoric. Stick to the content. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 01:22, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Angkor Wat[edit]

As I mentioned in the second paragraph of "Removal of section" above, the statement about the Angkor Wat relief carvings now in the "History" section of the article lacked any anthropological context. My addition taken from the same source was intended to provide some. That source stresses that religious nature of the carving; it does not shy away from it. The issue is not whether my addition was "necessary" but whether it enhances our article. I think it does. If other editors disagree, here's the place to discuss it. KatieHepPal (talk) 00:30, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Abortion/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: AlanZhu314159265358979 (talk · contribs) 01:29, 16 January 2015 (UTC)


Very clear and concise grammar, complete with well-organized framework. Consistent Style without any very big issues.


All sources consistent and contains all information with some quotes and with a clearly well dispersed reference notations. Majority of sources credible and up-to-date. Sources well dispersed throughout the entirety of the article, which is extremely clearly.


Covers everything between methods to society to history. This shows basically everything to do with the topic of abortion and also clear. A little bit of unnecessary detail but mostly basically completely summarized.


No real bias, so clear on this. Exceeds expectations on the ability to be no biased even on a widely opinionated topic like abortion.


Possible edit war, however reasons are very valid for changing article and thus as of current may be accepted as a GA Article.


Images well dispersed with sources and copyright status given clearly. Images well informed and helpful.

Binksternet comments
  • This article must fail GA because of the multiple "citation needed" tags, and the frequent edit warring which cannot be wished away. The only chance this article had of reaching GA is if there was time devoted to fixing the problems, and if the edit warring stopped. The review here is good intentioned but grossly inadequate. Binksternet (talk) 06:04, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
Citations fixed in less than 30mins. The edit warring will never stop, but recent history barely qualifies... it is a good faith very slow content dispute the reviewer acknowledged. Apart from the removal of a section (that few seem to miss in its current form) it barely registers. The only way I see the GA not passing easily, is if the lack of an "Art" section makes the article incomplete. IMO more of a FA requirement. - RoyBoy 17:46, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
Just chiming in, an art section for abortion? I hope that is not a requirement for this article. PointsofNoReturn (talk) 23:13, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
I also just scanned through the article and noticed many paragraphs still unsourced. Given that abortion is a common topic, I think that it can be fixed. PointsofNoReturn (talk) 23:17, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
I took a look to check those unsourced paragraphs and found they are mostly uncontroversial definitions of words ("an abortion performed without the woman's consent is considered feticide") or summaries of more specific topics. Maybe FA will require sources for these, but they aren't strictly necessary because the sources can be found at more detailed articles. Shii (tock) 21:56, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
I always thought everything in a GA must be cited. Also, definitions like festicide are not necessarily common knowledge (I had never even heard of the term festicide until you brought it up). It shouldn't be too hard to fix, but I would probably do it. I may do it myself if time permits me. PointsofNoReturn (talk) 23:56, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

I've not read this article from end-to-end, but the "abortion debate" section is pretty weak. It doesn't site a single cited source (neither do some other sections), and it's got a few highly vacuous claims. "An individual's position concerning the complex ethical, moral, philosophical, biological, and legal issues which surround abortion is often related to his or her value system." ... "Religious ethics also has an influence both on personal opinion and on the greater debate over abortion.". I appreciate that in a top-level article like this you can't enter into the intricacies of the various ethical/legal/religious debates, but the issues could be framed a little better, and some sources could be given. J Milburn (talk) 14:48, 1 February 2015 (UTC)