Social And Ethical Issues

The status of contraception, sterilization and abortion services in the United States has always been linked to the various social and political movements that have been engaged with issues of women's role in society, reproduction and sexuality. Different groups have advocated for and against family planning for different reasons and with different levels of success. While issues pertaining to reproductive control have always caused some degree of social conflict, this has been especially true since the 1970s when the abortion debate intensified and spilled over to other reproductive health services. The emergence of HIV and rising rates of other sexually-transmitted diseases have also contributed to the controversy surrounding fertility control in the United States and abroad as the new millennium dawns.

This entry begins with a discussion of fertility control in a historical context. One must be aware of this history in order to understand the current ethical debate and controversies surrounding family planning and abortion. The article then continues with discussions of the social, political, religious and moral perspectives. Although the circumstances may change, the issues surrounding fertility control will always be with us and will remain among the most unresolved in bioethics.

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