Philosophy Term Paper On Abortion

There have been an increasing number of abortion cases throughout the world. This scenario has been fuelled by among other factors social and economic factors. Abortion is the termination of pregnancy. It is the removal of the foetus before it is viable. It is usually done before the foetus gets to 25 weeks old. It is either spontaneous or induced abortion. Abortion refers to the induced type (Malcolm 1977 page 12).

In developed countries, abortion is legal whereas most developing countries do not encourage and permit abortion. This brings about the differences in safe and unsafe abortions. Abortion accounts for over 70,000 maternal deaths worldwide.

Abortion has a long history. In the past, it was done using crude tools such as sharpened tools, physical trauma and other traditional methods. With advancement in the field of medicine, contemporary methods are now used and involve the use of medication and surgical procedures (Nada 1998 page 61).

Each country in the world has different legality, cultural and religious statuses and prevalence of abortion. The ethical principles towards abortion and removal of pregnancies also vary. Countries such as the United States of America and Britain have heated politics surrounding the issue of abortion in pro-life and pro-choice campaigns (Ted 1995 page 66). These are based on the argument that for one group, it should be legalized and for the other, abortion should not. Most governments in the developed countries have legalized abortion. Many developing and underdeveloped countries have not legalized abortion and have no control over what is done by the medical personnel.

Abortion and childbirth complications have been the leading causes of maternal deaths the world over. With the advent of the 21st century, maternal deaths have declined. This has been attributed to education on family planning as well as the use of contraceptives.

Induced abortion
A third of pregnancies occurring in the world today are unintended. A fifth of these pregnancies end up in induced abortion. Induced abortion is the forceful removal of the foetus from the womb of the mother. The gestation age of the foetus is the determining factor of what procedures could be used to conduct the abortion. The procedure is also limited by the legality of abortion in that country, doctor patient preference and the regional availability of such services.

Induced abortion is either therapeutic or elective. Therapeutic abortion is done by medical personnel in an effort to save the lives of patients. Patients suffering from such things as illnesses, multiple pregnancies and complications could have this procedure done on them to avoid having complications at childbirth that may lead to loss of life (World health organisation 1979 page 16). Elective abortion is done at the request of the woman. This is usually done for non-medical reasons.

It is commonly referred to as miscarriages. They are unintentional. They usually occur before the 20th and 24th week. Many pregnancies are usually lost before doctors are aware of the presence of an embryo in the uterus. Spontaneous abortion is caused by chromosomal abnormalities, vascular diseases, diabetes, infections, uterus abnormalities and trauma among others (Isabel 1992 page 123). The most frequent causes of spontaneous abortion are age and a history of spontaneous abortions. Accidents and trauma have also been linked with the high rates of miscarriages among women.

Causes of abortion
Abortion is caused by a myriad of factors among them social, religious and economic factors.
The society’s desire for convenience has been a factor influencing the rates of abortion. Children and pregnancy are seen as a hindrance to a lot of fun and pleasure. One would easily remove the pregnancy in pursuit of this pleasure. The society accepts this circumstance and even encourages it by allowing governments to legalize abortion.

The lack for respect for life is a religious factor towards promoting abortion. People no longer appreciate new life forms. One would not think twice before doing an abortion. Raging debates have come up suggesting that a foetus is not a life form until it is born. Such debates could easily change people’s mindsets to disregard life.

Economic issues including poverty and insufficient funding have promoted abortion. Many young mothers have opted to do an abortion citing the inability to take care of the child once it is born. Usually such young girls do not have an income to support themselves leave the unborn child.

Stigma has contributed a lot in ensuring that abortion becomes a common thing. Girls who get pregnant while still very young get criticism especially in the developing countries. In most cultures, such a thing was unheard of. It was unheard of for one to get a child outside marriage. If one would have such a child, she would be excommunicated. Developing countries have not fully come out of this and girls who get pregnant whilst young are looked upon as ill-mannered individuals.

Rape has been a big reason why people abort their children. When rape has occurred, and one does not intend to keep the pregnancy, she would choose not to keep the baby. The experience of being raped is too big a burden that the evidence of such an ordeal in the form of a child would not be acceptable. Many girls would quickly abort to rid themselves of this psychological trauma.

Young girls have a better chance at furthering their education once they get rid of the child. In African countries for instance, a young girl getting pregnant meant that she would have to be married off immediately. This would ruin her chances of ever getting formal education again. Getting rid of the baby provides an easier way out in the quest for education and a brighter future.

Methods used in abortion
There are two main methods used during abortions i.e. use of the abortion pill and surgical removal.

The abortion pill is used for pregnancies up to nine weeks old. A combination of two drugs is taken. They are taken within 48 hours. The effect of the drugs is that the womb contracts and sheds its lining. The process is painful. This pain is experienced on the lower abdomen. It may cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Surgical removal can be done when the foetus is at 13 to 14 weeks. A sterile tube is inserted through the cervix and into the uterus. Suction is done pulling out all the materials in the uterus. The woman may leave the hospital the same day after the procedure has been done. At 14 and 15 weeks, surgical dilation is done using forceps to remove the unwanted foetus.

Complications of abortion
The most common is bleeding. Bleeding occurs normally for a few weeks. It decreases as one nears weeks 5 and 6. In cases of excessive bleeding, there are chances that the uterus may not have been emptied completely.

Pelvic inflammatory disease. This disease affects the vaginal area. The vagina produces an unpleasant vaginal discharge. The body temperature of the individual rises, and she experiences severe abdominal pains. Inflammation may happen in the womb due to emptying problems (Shirleen 2003 page 40). It may be caused because the womb had not been completely emptied. This would require that a new evacuation be done for the woman.

Pain is a normal problem for the abortion process. It is often relieved by using painkillers. In instances where there is excessive pain, one should consult the doctor to have her uterus rechecked.

The uterus may be punctured especially during surgical termination of pregnancy. The tools used may create a hole in the uterus causing complications. Such a patient is kept in the hospital for observation and check up (Bodo 1998 page 159).

Abortion gives a chance to young women especially those below the age of 21 years to pursue their education. A young girl caught in a situation where she has to carry the child to term will mean that she cannot do anything else. She would have to stop learning at some point to address the needs of the child. Most likely, she would have to stop schooling all together to take care of the child. By getting rid of the foetus, she is able to continue pursuing her educational needs.

Abortion has been of help to women with health issues. Women with diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and sickle cell anemia have been able to avoid serious medical complications that arise from childbirth through abortions. Such complications could easily lead to loss of life. Usually a doctor may prescribe such a procedure when he realizes that the life of the mother is in danger.

Abortion gives women identity. In the chauvinistic societies, women have no power at all over their reproductive sense. The inculcation of abortion into laws and codes of ethics has helped the women by giving them power over their sexuality.

Abortion has been used to control family size. Young motherhood is easily avoided through abortion. A woman may choose to have an abortion to prevent her from becoming a mother at a very tender age.

Parents have used abortion as a way to reduce the number of children that they may get. Parents have used this to trim the numbers of children. They would discuss whether they wanted the baby or not and would remove it in case they do not want it. This helps regulate the number of children and aids in family planning.

Rape victims have found solace in the fact that they could easily remove such children that would arise from such action. Rape victims would not want to keep the baby because of psychological trauma that they would associate this child to. Removal of the child would remain the best option to end this.

Abortion indicates brutality to the unborn child. This is because abortion is killing. It does not give the new foetus a chance to survive. It is hinged on religion, which condemns the act saying that all are equal before the almighty. The spiritual books go against the very idea of abortion.

Abortion encourages infidelity by women. Women would engage in sexual acts outside the marriage context with the view that they would remove such fetuses if they happened to implant themselves in their uterus. Once a woman gets pregnant, she would easily remove the pregnancy and continue with her life.

Abortion has the potential of lessens chances of a woman getting a child later in life. Abortion interferes with the uterine wall. At other instances, it may lead to total damage of the uterus. This would result in bareness hence a woman would not get a child when she needs it later in her life. Such actions may also cause hormonal imbalances that could be attributed to the barren nature of the women later in their lives.

Abortion promotes irresponsible behavior. This is because it gives women and men alike the freedom to commit careless sexual activities. This is because they know that they could easily get rid of the pregnancy if they so wish to. This freedom makes them care less about their sexuality.

Concurrent abortions may lead to medical complications. Some of these complications include uterine infections, recurrent miscarriages and sepsis among others. Consistent use of such methods causes the hormones to change. This means that the hormones are tuned to a program where they cannot sustain a full pregnancy to term. The body gets used to rejecting any pregnancy hence the case of consistent miscarriages may pop up.

Abortion may end up causing psychological impairments. Examples of this include depression and guilt. Some women may feel depressed after losing their baby. This could be the case especially, if the child was their first and the abortion was done as a medical thing that they had no control over. Continuous miscarriages may cause such individuals stress and eventual depression. This would ultimately affect the biology of the mother affecting the subsequent pregnancies. This is because the brain would have been tuned to reject any pregnancies due to such depression.

Alternatives to abortion
Churches, nongovernmental organisations and the government run campaigns against abortion. In such campaigns, they ask mothers to look for other options other than abortion. Some of these options include adoption as well as being provided with the necessary help to enable them carry the pregnancy to term.

Adoption is a widely used practice in many countries. It involves the transfer of ownership of a child to other parents who would love to take care of it. The child is usually given to adopting parents because the mother could not afford to raise him or would love to pursue other things. Adoption is an option that comes in handy because the mother is relieved of all duties about the child as it is taken up by a different family. The mother is assured that the child would be safe with the adopting parents. The mother can then go through with her plans without the child getting in the way.

Providing support to such mothers is another option that has been explored. Nongovernmental organisations and church groups have come together to pull resources to support such young mothers through their pregnancy. They have also been of importance in supporting them as they take care of the child. They support them with such things as financial resources and psychological counseling.

Abortion is a social, medical and a religious issue. It is entrenched into the legal laws of every country in the world in one way or another. It has a place in the lives of individuals directly or indirectly. Ethical values arise out of such deeds as abortion that determines the direction that one chooses. Other mechanisms that control abortion include the legal and religious aspects of society.

Providing the necessary support in the form of financial aid and psychological support to mothers contemplating abortion could serve as the best way to curb such deaths resulting from abortion.

There are advantages and disadvantages of abortion of almost equal measure. Abortion presents a double-edged sword in its advantages and disadvantages to individuals and society. It should be after careful consideration that abortion should be done (Patricia 1992 page 93).

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Why I Am Pro-Life

Every day 115,000 pregnancies are aborted around the world.[1] Is this wrong or is it right? Should it be legal, or illegal? Abortion is a complex and complicated issue that has been the subject of debate for decades, but perhaps it’s not as complex and complicated as it really seems to be. When we use instrumental agents of logic, science, morality and theology, it is possible to sort through the complexity and find simplicity in the argument. It is my hope that in using these tools, you will see the reality behind this long standing debate, and agree as a final cause, that the only moral, ethical and logical side to maintain in this great debate is the Pro-Life position.

The question we all must address first and foremost is, when does life begin? The opinion of when life starts varies from as early as conception to as late as the actual cutting of the umbilical cord, finalizing the infant as an independent agent. The “life” I speak of is essentially that of a “human life,” since a human is the ultimate product of a pregnancy. Though some argue that just because something is living (let’s take an embryo for example) doesn’t make it human simply because it will eventually develop into a human.

But let’s put this into perspective. Think of a child watching TV with his Grandpa. Who is more human, the Grandpa or the child? The answer is that they’re both equally human, despite the grandpa being older and more developed as a human. So if age and physical development do not determine the degree of which something is human, then how can we argue that an embryo is not human simply because is it less “developed?” This is where science enters the picture.

At fertilization the 23 chromosomes from the father and the 23 chromosomes from the mother combine to create a genetically unique individual known as a zygote. From the moment the zygote is formed it has a unique identity with DNA separate from its mother and father, and begins dividing rapidly into cells creating the child. If we trace ourselves back to the earliest point of our existence as individuals, we must trace it back to when our genetic makeup first established us as whom we are individually from our parents. That point in time is fertilization.

Yes, a zygote may not look like a human with legs, eyes and a cute nose. But regardless of appearances, identity is established genetically. And at a genetic level a zygote and embryo are just as human as you or I, just less developed physically. Like the grandpa and the child mentioned earlier. Your DNA was just as complex, and had the same information as to who you are and will be, then as a zygote or embryo, as it is now as an adult. Countless physicians and medical experts consider fertilization the point at which human life begins. Even the Official Senate report on Senate Bill 158, the “Human Life Bill“, acting as a counseling agent stated: “Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being – a being that is alive and a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.”[2] In addition, every step in development after fertilization is not a debatable process from which humanness can be determined. As counseling agent Dr. Tommy Mitchell, a cellular biologist and biochemist, put it; “…at no time in this process is there a scientific point at which the developing individual clearly ‘becomes a person,’ any more than a baby becomes more human when it walks, talks, or is weaned. These milestones in zygote, blastocyst, embryonic, and fetal development are simply descriptions of anatomy, not hurdles met in the test of humanness. From a scientific point of view, the words are arbitrary and purely descriptive.”[3]

Using science as a principal agent, we can establish the formal cause of the Pro-Life position in that human life begins at fertilization. Establishing this point of time as that entity being a human, it is therefore subject to human rights. This brings us to the subject of rights in the abortion debate.

Women’s rights play a big role as a preparing agent in the Pro-Choice argument. Pro-Choice advocates maintain that it is the woman’s right to choose what she wants done to her own body. Pro-Life supporters beg the question; what about the rights of the child which has no voice to stand up for it’s right to live? The Pro-Choice objection to this question is that the embryo is not an individual, but a part of the woman’s body, and therefore, the woman has the right to decide for herself whether or not she will have an abortion. The first problem with this argument is that the embryo/fetus has a completely unique genetic identity, as discussed earlier, and is therefore not part of the female’s body, as any part of a woman’s body would have the same genetic code as the woman.

Furthermore, the freedom to choose (in any other situation outside of abortion) is always restricted and prohibited if it entails the harming of an innocent life. So why does it not apply in the event of an unborn child? At what point does the woman have rights and the human life inside of her have none? If we have human rights protecting us from being willingly harmed by others, and human life occurs at fertilization, then abortion is essentially the killing of a human life, and therefore a violation of human rights. One cannot argue they have the right to harm another innocent life. As Ronald Regan once said, “Simple morality dictates that unless and until someone can prove the unborn human is not alive, we must give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it is (alive). And, thus, it should be entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”[4]

Now that it has been established that human life begins at fertilization which entitles that life to rights, we must ask if there are any exceptions. What about the event of rape or deformities of a child. Aren’t these circumstances in which abortion should be legal? These are common objections, and at first they seem valid. But you must consider the following regarding rape cases: First, they are extremely rare, accounting for only 1% of all abortions.[5] Second, think about what rape is. It is an act of violence upon an innocent life. Now think about what abortion is. It too is an act of violence upon an innocent life. The abortion will in no way heal or comfort the woman who has just been raped. It is a situation where we must ask if two wrongs make a right. Violence has already been imposed on one innocent life, why would we impose violence on another innocent life?

In the event of deformities or disabilities discovered in a developing child, we again have another example of infrequency, accounting for only 6% of all abortions.[6] At that, should we really abort a pregnancy because of disabilities? In the UK alone, 9 out of every 10 unborn children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome is aborted.[7] The Pro-Choice argument here is that it is an act of kindness for the child to not live, instead of living with disabilities. But given the choice, what would the unborn child want? Anya Souza is a woman with Down’s syndrome who provides enlightening insight to this question, “I can’t get rid of my Down’s syndrome, but you can’t get rid of my happiness. You can’t get rid of the happiness I give to others either. Its doctors like you that want to test pregnant women and stop people like me from being born. Together with my family and friends I have fought to prevent my separation from normal society. I have fought for my rights…. I may have Down’s Syndrome, but I am a person first.”[8]

So if only 1% of abortions are for rape cases and 6% are for disabilities, what are the reasons behind the other 93% of abortions? The other 93% of cases are for social reasons in which the unborn is deemed unwanted or inconvenient.[9] As Mother Teresa once said, “It is a poverty that a “child must die”, so that you may live as you wish.”[10]Clearly, the real formal cause of abortion is a lack of morality in the face of selfishness, not only on the part of the mother, but on anyone who influences the mother as assisting agents to make the life-ending decision.

In response, the Pro-Choice objection is the “unwanted child” scenario, that if the parents do not abort the child, they will have an unwanted child, which they will subject to an abusive and unloved lifestyle. This argument is usually accompanied with statistics of child abuse towards unwanted children. But this argument is a logical fallacy of false alternatives, trying to convince people that there are only two options in an unwanted pregnancy; abortion, or an unfair and unloving upbringing of an unwanted child. But there are more choices for children than just these two. Every child is wanted, maybe not by the parents, but there is always someone willing to care for a child, perhaps by the grandparents or adopting parents. In many states, fire stations, police stations and hospitals have a policy that allows anyone to drop off a child within 72 hours of birth, no questions asked, so that the child may receive proper rearing. There are a multitude of choices for an “unwanted” child. In addition, to respond to the statistics of child abuse of unwanted children, child abuse is found mostly with “wanted” children. Child abuse cases have increased since the legalization of abortion. And lastly, is not abortion itself a form of child abuse? “Unwanted” is not the condition of the child, but instead an attitude of the parents. It would be more “unfair” to kill an innocent life on the grounds of curing an attitude of the parents.

As a formal cause of abortion, there are also many health problems concerning abortion procedures. Legalized “safe” abortion still runs an extremely high risk of causing health problems to the woman receiving the abortion. Women who have had abortions are 7 to 11 times more likely to have subsequent infertility, miscarriage, and placenta praevia.[11] 10% of abortions cause a perforated uterus which usually requires an immediate hysterectomy. Altogether, 25-40% of women who have had abortions will have major complications in trying to get pregnant later in life, and will not be able to have children. [12] Another health complication is breast cancer, which medical research shows has a 50% chance of occurring in a woman who has had an aborted pregnancy.[13]

Outside of physical health dangers, there are also emotional dangers with abortion. Pro-Choice advocates often claim that by aborting a pregnancy a woman is relieved of the responsibility of caring for a child, and therefore relieved of stress, which in turn is a mental and psychological benefit. This claim appears to be logical at first, but in reality it is merely a misleading assisting agent to the Pro-Choice cause. Medical research has instead revealed the surprisingly high rate of Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) found in women who have had abortions. PAS is a form of post-traumatic stress syndrome, with severe symptoms of guilt, anxiety and depression. This psychological affliction is both short term and long term, and has caused such severe depression in woman that, statistically speaking, more women commit suicide after an abortion, than women who have never had one.[14] Pro-Choice advocates will often try to point the finger back to Pro-Life advocates in this scenario, claiming that the guilt and depression onset in PAS is a result of guilt and pressure laid on to women from Pro-Life supporters both at home and in society. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The pressure put on women at home and in society is one pro-abortion in nature, as statistics show that 53% of women felt coerced by others to have an abortion, and only 33% actually felt that the abortion was their “free” choice.[15] Isn’t it interesting that the argument for abortion is usually centered around the preparing agent of the woman’s right to choose, yet in the majority of most women that have an abortion, the decision made is one influenced by other people and society in general,.

Now knowing the psychological and physical dangers of abortion, we can proceed to refute another common objection to the Pro-Life argument: The “Back-Alley” argument. This argument persuades that if abortion is made illegal, women will still get abortions, but they will instead be forced into the unsafe and unregulated back alleys to get the procedure done. But the abortion procedure is dangerous regardless of where and how it is done, as is clearly documented and proven. Furthermore, the claim that illegalizing abortion will force women to use rusty clothes hangers to carry out abortions is an incredible exaggeration used as a scare tactic by Pro-Choice advocates. Decades prior to the legalization of abortion, 90% of abortions were done by doctors in their offices. It was a medical procedure then when it was illegal, and it is still a medical practice now being legal. In addition, every country that has ever legalized abortion has experienced little to no change in the rate of criminal abortion.[16] Criminal abortion continues to happen regardless of whether or not it is legal. Lastly, we should also not ignore the moral ramifications of this argument. How can we morally justify legalizing procedures that kill the innocent just to make the killing process less hazardous? How convoluted must our priorities be if we want to find a “safer” way to kill an unborn child? Or care so much for the well being of one life, yet completely disregard the life of another? The “Back-Alley” argument is simply a scare tactic backed with no sound evidence. Multiple studies show a range of 40-85% of women admit that if abortion was illegal, they would not have opted to have one.[17] The only consequence of making abortion illegal would be the saved lives of both children and mothers.

What abortion boils down to as a formal cause is an increasing disinterest in the value of life. It seems that societies worldwide are becoming more and more concerned with comfort and convenience for the self over concerns of the lives of others, in all aspects of life. Regardless of what arguments, beliefs or claimed “rights” Pro-Choice advocates use to jettison away from the moral implications, they can never escape the moral ramifications of devaluing life. Yet as time progresses, more and more people in society are beginning to slip under this spell. The world famous Hippocratic Oath that was for centuries repeated as an oath by all physicians, stated (in its original context); “…I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.”[18]Yet in 1964, this portion of the Hippocratic Oath was removed. This is just one of many examples of the shift in our morality as a society, that continues to erode away and ignore the value of life.

The value of life cannot be ignored, and this is when we must look to the theological perspective as a principal agent of the Pro-Life argument. In a world full of conflicting opinions that are ever changing, we often must look for guidance in a permanent source that never changes. So, what does God have to say about the issue?

In the preparing agent of the Bible we find many passages that clearly show God’s perspective and passion regarding life and its value to Him. Psalm 139:13-16 and Jeremiah 1:4-5 say that God knew us each individually before we even existed in our mother’s wombs. These verses clearly support the Genetic Position, that we are live individuals at conception (and perhaps even live individuals prior to conception on a spiritual level). In Genesis 25:21-23 we read of God referencing Rebekah’s twins as actual people, further indicating that the unborn were considered live individuals. Lastly, in Exodus 21:22-24, God speaks of punishment to anyone who causes a woman to give birth prematurely killing the child. This clearly indicates that causing a woman to lose a child prematurely is wrong. To combine this scripture with science, counseling agent Dr. Tommy Mitchell states, “Since the Bible treats those persons yet unborn as real persons, and since the development of a person is a continuum with a definite beginning at the moment of fertilization, the logical point at which a person begins to be human is at that beginning… Frankly, no other conclusion is possible from Scripture or science.”[19]

In conclusion, if the moment of fertilization brings about a human life, then aborting a pregnancy is killing that human life. And killing a human life is murder. If you believe the murder of an innocent life is wrong, then you must likewise believe abortion is wrong by that same definition. Any other argument raised to justify such an act is merely a diversion to direct you from the simplicity of this inhumane act. At that, it is my hope that I have appropriately explained, as a final cause, that the Pro-Life position is the only morally sound and logical position to hold in the abortion debate.

A human life, no matter how small, no matter how simple, now matter how invisible, is still a human life like you and I. Like it or not, you and I were just as small and fragile at one point in our lives, and though you may disagree with everything I’ve written here, there is one thing we all can agree on: It is a great thing our mothers were Pro-Life while we were inside them. If not, you would not be reading this.

[2] Report, Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981, p7. Cited in Pro-life Answers for Pro-Choice Arguments, By Randy Alcorn, (Multnomah Press, OR, USA, 1992), p43

[3] The New Answers Book 2, “When Does Life Begin?” (Master Books: Green Forest, AR 2009) pg. 315.

[7] D. Mutton, “Trends in Parental Screening for, and Diagnosis of, Down’s Syndrome: England and Whales, 1989-97,” British Medical Journal, October 3, 1998.

[11] “Induced Abortion: A Risk Factor for Placental Praevia.” by Jeffrey M Barrett, MD, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, December 1981, p769

[12]Aborted Women, Reardon, p106

[13] Dr Joel Brind, professor of endocrinology and breast cancer researcher. Journal of the American Medical Association (Nov 1993).

[16]The Least of These: What Everyone Should Know About Abortion, Curt Young, 1984, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, p215

[17]Aborted Women: Silent No More, by David C Reardon, 1987, Crossway, Westchester, IL p321-322

[19] The New Answers Book 2, “When Does Life Begin?” (Master Books: Green Forest, AR 2009) pg. 323.

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