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The Encyclopedia

Today, abortion is prohibited in some countries, while its availability varies in others. Among the latter, including the U.S., medical termination of a pregnancy is generally permitted under conditions specified by national law: for example, when the continuation of a pregnancy entails risks to the life of the pregnant woman, or when, if the child were born, he or she would suffer from disabling mental or physical abnormalities. In some countries, the issue of abortion is so divisive that it threatens social and

international relations. In the United States, for instance, internal social and political divisions have given rise to changes in foreign policy. Congress has placed limits on relations with countries that practice family planning, including abortion. Specifically, Congress has not only cut foreign aid in the general area, but it has prohibited the use of U.S. appropriated funds by countries or organizations participating "in the management" of "coercive" abortion. Further Reading: H. Barber, A Crisis of Conscience (1993); E. C. Koop, "Why Defend Partial-Birth Abortion?," NYT (September 26, 1996); E. R. Rubin, ed., The Abortion COIztrouersy: A Documentary History (1994).