Although abortion is commonly practised throughout most of the world and has been practised since long before the beginning of recorded history, it is a subject that arouses passion and controversy.  Abortion raises fundamental questions about human existence, such as when life begins and what it is that makes us human. Abortion is at the heart of such contentious issues as the right of women to control their own bodies, the nature of the State’s duty to protect the unborn, the tension between secular and religious views of human life and the individual and society, the rights of spouses and parents to be involved in the abortion decision, and the conflicting rights of the mother and the foetus.  Also central to the subject of abortion is one of the most highly controversial social issues of all, sexuality.  Any discussion of abortion almost inevitably leads to a consideration of how a pregnancy came about and ways that the pregnancy could have been prevented by the use of contraceptive methods. As the new century begins, these questions and issues continue to occupy a significant place in public discourse around the world.

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