Bodies: the Exhibition Blog

Twin Telepathy: Fact or Fiction?

Monozygotic twins, also known as identical twins, evolve from one zygote that splits into two embryos. One common myth about identical twins is that they have the same DNA because they stem from the same embryo. While research proves that identical twins do not share identical DNA (or fingerprints, for that matter), no evidence exists to substantiate whether or not twins have a special mental connection. Is it possible for identical twins to possess a form of telepathy or extrasensory perception (ESP)?

Telepathy

Fredric W. H. Myers, founder of the Society for Psychical Research, created the word “telepathy” in 1882. Telepathy, also known as “thought transference,” is defined as “the alleged communication of thought from one person to another by means other than the physical senses.”[1]

 

Empirical Data

While no scientific evidence supports the existence of twin telepathy, many personal anecdotes claim to demonstrate the phenomenon. Dr. Nancy L. Segal, a preeminent twin researcher explains, “There simply isn’t any empirical proof that twins have ESP or that twin telepathy exists. It can’t be substantiated in a scientific environment.”[2]

The following account describes one possible occurrence of twin telepathy:

“Paula Wombwell, a teacher and mother of identical twin girls, recounts an unexplained event when they were about four years old. One twin, Heather, was with Paula in the classroom while the other twin, Catherine, was in the gymnasium on another floor. Suddenly, Paula heard Catherine crying downstairs, and Heather declared that it was because a certain person had just run over her with a scooter. There was no way Heather could have seen what happened. Sure enough, when Paula asked Catherine about what had happened she confirmed that that certain person had run over her with a scooter.”[3]

-@BodiesExhibit

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/53-twin-telepathy-fact-or-fictio...

Stem Cell Research: Gaining Popularity?

Stem cell research has been a highly controversial news topic in recent years, but polls suggest that as much as 72% of the public now supports stem cell research.[1] All multi-cellular organisms contain stem cells. These cells have the remarkable ability to divide and produce more stem cells or other specialized cells. Stem cells serve as a limitless internal repair system. Thus, scientists seek to research stem cells and their unique properties’ potential role in patient care.

 

Embryonic and Adult Stem Cells

There are many different types of stem cells, each classified by location and origin. The two most referenced types are embryonic and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are developed from embryos four or five days post-in vitro fertilization. They are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman’s body. At four to five days old, an embryo contains anywhere from 50 to 150 cells.[2] These stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they have the potential to divide and form into any type of cell. Scientists are interested in this specific potential.

Adult stem cells live in various human organs and tissues, such as bone marrow. These stem cells work to repair and regenerate the tissue where they reside. Adult stem cells are scarce and do not reproduce frequently. They have been used in bone marrow transplants and leukemia treatments for over 40 years.[3]

Controversy

Embryonic stem cell research is the epicenter of the stem cell controversy. Embryos used for research come from eggs fertilized through in vitro fertilization (IVF). In vitro fertilization is a technique that unites the egg and sperm in a laboratory instead of inside the female body. Eggs are never implanted into a female uterus.[4] Embryonic stem cell research involves destroying an embryo in order to harvest another. Because of this, many pro-life* advocates argue against stem cell research.

Scientists are studying embryonic stem cells to identify complex events that take place during human development. Dan S. Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D explains the benefits of embryonic stem cell research: “It is an essential field to pursue to make key advances in biomedical research to treat diseases effectively where there are currently no cures—including, but not limited to, paralysis from spinal cord injury, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.”[5]

First Stem Cell Clinical Trial

The first clinical trial using embryonic stem cells was conducted in Atlanta, GA in October 2010 to treat a spinal cord injury. During trial treatments on animals, paralyzed rats regained some mobility. Results from this clinical trial have not yet been reported. Although the field of stem cell research is promising, many more years of testing are necessary before researchers know whether stem cell therapy is safe and effective.[6]

*Regarding the use of terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice:” The journalistic and academic consensus is to call each group by its preferred name. Both names are politically framed; some argue the terms need an update.

-@BodiesExhibit

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/52-stem-cell-research-gaining-po...

Medical Care in Ancient Ireland

Having a place to care for the sick and wounded, what we now refer to as a hospital, was a valuable institution in Ireland as far back as 1169 AD - 1607 AD. While many modern hospitals are secular organizations, most facilities in ancient Ireland had some connection to monasteries, either through management or support. Similar to modern-day hospitals, these ancient clinics could be designated as either general treatment facilities or for treating specific illnesses (such as leprosy).

Sanitation and Patients

Sanitation and cleanliness were important, even hundreds of years ago. Irish law dictated the following requirements for treatment facilities: “...free from dirt, should have four open doors, and should have a stream of water running across it through the middle of the floor." [1]

Patients were expected to pay for food and medicine if they could afford the expense. If one individual wounded another without justification, Brehon Law required the guilty party to pay the victim’s medical fees until the patient recovered or died. Further, the assailant was responsible for ensuring the patient was treated properly and that all sanitary regulations were upheld.

Herb-Doctors

Outside the clinics, peasants were known to practice herbal remedies for healing wounds. Although these peasants (called herb-doctors) were not recognized as physicians, they were considerably knowledgeable. Herb-doctors gained their savoir-faire primarily from manuscripts passed down through many generations. However, herb-doctors did not have the same technical qualifications as physicians; they were liable to legal dangers that did not pertain to regular doctors.

 -@BodiesExhibit

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/55-medical-care-in-ancient-irela...

Guest Post: Travel Diary | NYC - BODIES...The Exhibition

The winner of our Facebook/Twitter blogger contest was Morgan Sheets. Here is her blog post reviewing BODIES...The Exhibition at the South Street Seaport in New York City.

I have wanted to see BODIES…The Exhibition for ages and was thrilled to see that it was open while I was in New York City. I had missed seeing BODIES…The Exhibition while it was nearby in the Midwest and had been asking them on Twitter when it would come my way again. I am a certified massage therapist and to be able to see the body in 3D and to see the muscles laid bare was an incredible opportunity.

Studying anatomy and physiology is an introduction to the intricacies of the human body, but to be able to see every piece and part laid exposed takes the education and perception of the body to a different level. For the sake of transparency I have to tell you I was offered tickets to see BODIES…The Exhibition, and I accepted. However, that will not color my opinion or writing about the experience. Please note that unless I am quoting something from the exhibition or stating a fact, all of the opinions expressed in this blog are purely my own.

BODIES_The_Exhibition_Symmetrical_Specimen_Full_View

“Seeing promotes understanding and understanding promotes the most practical kind of body education possible.”
- Dr. Roy Glover, BODIES…The Exhibition Medical Director

The New York BODIES…The Exhibition offers an intimate view into the systems of the body, including: the skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, digestive, urinary, circulatory, and reproductive systems, fetal development, and the treated body. Before you attend there are a few things you should know.  There are no cell phones or cameras allowed inside BODIES…The Exhibition but they do have a free coat check for your coats and bags.  I really loved this feature because it was rather warm in the Exhibition and ridding myself of my coat and bag allowed me to leisurely stroll through it at my own pace and enjoy it.  Also when I was there (2/16/11) there was a Foursquare check in and bonus offer.   Through March 31, 2011 you can order tickets online and save $6 by using the code NYCBODIES.

At the beginning of BODIES…The Exhibition, the intro read “Life Uncovered: A journey of self discovery whereby you gaze and marvel at real human bodies to discover what you are on the inside.”  When I told people I was going to visit BODIES…The Exhibition I received equal reactions of fascination and horror.  Seeing the bodies is not as gruesome as one might believe and the polymer preservation keeps the specimens in pristine condition.  It’s truly a marvel how they were able to preserve the bodies in such a way.  One of my favorite displays from BODIES…The Exhibition was the transverse sliced specimen gallery.

 BODIES_The_Exhibition_Transverse_Specimen_the_Treated_Body_Gallery
Transverse sections of the human body

Not only can you see what a normal organ should look like, but also there are many common diseases on display to observe, such as lung cancer, peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis, liver cirrhosis, and kidney stones.   I hear that many people give up smoking after seeing the effects of smoking on the lungs at BODIES.  There is a bin right by the display where people can throw away their cigarettes.

BODIES_The_Exhibition_Healthy_v._Smokers_Lung
Healthy Lung vs. Smoker's Lung

I had never truly realized how many blood vessels are in our bodies are until I saw BODIES…The Exhibition.  One of my favorite parts was seeing the circulatory and respiratory galleries.  The bronchial trees and pulmonary arteries are downright beautiful.  I want to sketch them and create beautiful pieces of art from them.  The systems remind me of the intricate networks of roots that trees and plants have.

BODIES_The_Exhibition_Circulatory_Gallery
The Circulatory Gallery

Did you know that our nerve cells create electrical impulses that reach speeds exceeding 270 miles per hour?  I didn’t.  Our bodies are such amazing, intricate houses for our souls.  We are so delicate, intricate, and elaborate.  What we put in our bodies for fuel or for recreation truly has a system-wide impact.  I hope that everyone goes and sees BODIES…The Exhibition at some point in their lives so that they can truly understand their bodies and understand the impact of living a healthy lifestyle versus an unhealthy one.

My absolute favorite part of BODIES…The Exhibition was the fetal gallery.  There are actual fetuses on display at various stages in their development so there is a sign asking you to please consider whether you want to go into the fetal gallery before entering.  I highly recommend entering and seeing this portion.  It is incredible how fast the human fetus develops and the detail that is apparent in its form from a very early stage in its development.   In the gallery it says, “The heart begins to beat during the fifth week of development.” I sincerely hope that everyone who has a view on abortion, on which we all should have a view, sees the Exhibition and decides for themselves what they think is right.  Let’s focus on science and not religion in forming our laws and points of views.  A fetus is very small to begin with and would not survive without a host.

I feel very honored to have been able to see this exhibition and am grateful to all the souls who donated their bodies for the sake of science and for the education of others. At the end of BODIES…The Exhibition they have computers and machines that perform a variety of health tests.  My friend and I both checked our weight, body fat percentage, body mass index, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels.  It was fun and informative.  Make sure you don’t miss that fun little feature.

I would advise allowing at least an hour to see the Exhibition, but highly recommend spending more like two to three hours there.  I have a friend who spent six hours at BODIES.  There is so much to read, see, and observe that having the time to do so is imperative.

South_Street_Seaport_Pier_17_Photo_James_Michael

The Exhibition is located at:

BODIES…The Exhibition
11 Fulton Street
New York City, NY 10038

To purchase discounted tickets to NYC attractions please visit the NYC Ticket Machine.

BODIES…The Exhibition is located right near Pier 17 by the Seaport. There are lots of little shops and restaurants there and it’s a nice place to take a stroll along the water.

-@theuncagedbird

See Morgan Sheets' original blog post

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/51-guest-post-travel-diary-new-y...

Tobacco: The Socially Acceptable Killer

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. More than 440,000 Americans die from tobacco-related diseases each year; most of them start using tobacco before age 18.1

Carcinogens in the Body

Cigarette smokers inhale tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide and 200 other known poisons into the lungs.2 Smoking tobacco injures lung tissue, preventing the lungs from fighting infection. It also injures the vascular system, resulting in strokes, heart attacks, aortic aneurysms, and peripheral vascular diseases.3

Speeding Up the Aging Process and the Anti-Aging Skincare Market

The appearance of aging is a concern for many people, especially Americans. As the world's largest cosmetics market, valued at US $45.4 billion, "the anti-aging products sector and increased mass-market distribution of prestige products are the primary drivers of the U.S. cosmeceutical market... retail sales of skin care products [grew] by 4.8 percent to $5.8 billion in 2005 from 2004."4

After just ten years of smoking, skin damage from cigarettes may begin to occur. The more cigarettes one smokes and the longer one smokes, the more skin wrinkling is likely — even though the early skin damage from smoking may be hard to see. Nicotine causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the outermost layers of the skin, impairing blood flow. With less blood being delivered, skin does not receive the normal amount of oxygen and important nutrients like Vitamin A. In smokers, skin will sag and wrinkle prematurely because many of the over 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke damage collagen and elastin. "The U.S. market value for skin care nourishing and anti-aging products is forecasted to reach $2.6 billion in 2011, a 24 percent growth from last year's estimate of $2.1 billion."5

Pregnancy and Secondhand Smoke

Mothers smoking during pregnancy have caused an estimated 94,000 infant deaths.6 Additionally, tobacco-exposed infants suffer from underdeveloped lungs. Smokers are not the only people affected by tobacco; those exposed to secondhand smoke may suffer from serious diseases and death. It is estimated that 126 million Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, and almost 50,000 non-smokers die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure.7 Out of those 50,000 secondhand smoke deaths, approximately 3,000 are from lung cancer.8

 

Billions of dollars are spent marketing tobacco to the public. $12.5 billion was spent in 2006 on marketing ($34 million per day).9 The three most heavily advertised brands of cigarettes are Marlboro, Camel, and Newport. 36% of cigarette ads appear in magazines targeted to teens.10 Tobacco companies argue that they have the right to advertise based on freedom of speech under the First Amendment. They maintain that in reference to advertising, people have the ability to decide what is in their best interest.

BODIES…The Exhibition gives visitors a chance to dispose of their cigarettes at the end of all Exhibitions. Over 10,000 packs have been thrown out.

-@BodiesExhibit

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/49-tobacco-the-socially-acceptab...

Six Going on Sixty: The Appearance of Rapid Aging with Progeria Syndrome

Progeria syndrome (formally referred to as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome or HGPS) is an extremely rare condition in which young children begin aging at 8 to 10 times the normal rate.1 Progeria is a genetic condition that is not usually inherited, although there is a uniquely heritable form. "Because of this accelerated aging, a child of ten years will have similar respiratory, cardiovascular, and arthritic conditions that a 70-year-old would have."2 HGPS affects approximately 1 in 8 million live births.3 Currently there are between 35 and 45 known cases in the world. F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1922 short story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button features a character born as a seventy-year-old man who ages backwards. The popularity of the story – likely inspired by progeria –  and the 2008 film starring Brad Pitt are two main contributors to cultural awareness of accelerated aging diseases.

The word “progeria” stems from the Greek “progeros,” meaning “prematurely old.” Most children born with Hutchinson-Gilford are given a thirteen-year life expectancy; a small percentage lives to see their twenties, and even fewer may reach their forties. Typically, complications of atherosclerosis, such as heart attack or stroke, cause an early death in the teen years.

Children with progeria syndrome appear healthy at birth, but then they begin to develop more slowly than average and fail to gain weight at a normal rate. HGPS patients also develop scleroderma, which is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease characterized by hardening and vascular alterations of the skin. Another progeria characteristic is distinguishable facial features, including prominent eyes, a thin nose, a small chin, and protruding ears. Joint abnormalities, subdermal fat loss, and hair loss also contribute to the older visage. While those with HGPS may appear advanced in age, motor skills like walking do not progress rapidly. Progeria affects all races and both sexes equally.4

Genetic Mutation

Progeria is caused by a point mutation in position 1824 of the LMNA gene, repcurrlacing cytosine with thymine. Although progeria is often colloquially grouped with other "accelerated aging diseases," it should not be confused with Werner's syndrome or Cockayne's syndrome, which are merely "segmental progerias," not displaying every aspect of aging. Parents rarely pass the disease to children; it is a sporadic autosomal dominant mutation. "For a family with one child with HGPS, non-twin siblings have the same chance of having HGPS as any other child in any other family – approximately one in 4-8 million."4 To date, there is no cure for progeria.

1. "Learning About Progeria" genome.gov
2. Information Progeria
3. Progeria. Incidence of Progeria and HGPS
4. Progeria Research Foundation

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/48-six-going-on-sixty-the-appear...

Controversial Medical Experiments: Syphilis

Guatemala Syphilis Experiment

Interested in testing the effectiveness of penicillin as a treatment for venereal disease, from 1946 to 1948 American public health doctors ran an innoculation experiment now considered "abhorrent." Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. doctors deliberately infected nearly 700 Guatemalans — prison inmates, mental patients, and soldiers — with syphilis. In Fall 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized to the Guatemalan government and the survivors and descendants of those infected. Clinton referred to the experiments as “clearly unethical.” During the study, the NIH paid syphilis-infected prostitutes to have sex with the prisoners. Other invasive methods to infect the subjects included pouring bacteria on their scraped genitalia.

Why did the NIH do it?

According to Susan M. Reverby, the professor at Wellesley College whose research brought the Guatemala experiments to light, the United States Public Health Service “was deeply interested in whether penicillin could be used to prevent, not just cure, early syphilis infection." Growing syphilis in the lab proved difficult, and animal testing was inconclusive about the effects of penicillin on human disease. Led by public health doctor John C. Cutler, the findings were never published; mainly, this is because Cutler's Guatemalan study was discontinued due to medical gossip and the large amount of coveted penicillin he was using. Later, Cutler joined the infamous forty-year Tuskegee, Alabama syphilis experiment. Similarly, this study involved unethical measures and the deception of 399 impoverished African-American sharecroppers.

However, the Guatemalan experiment was much worse than Tuskegee. As stated by Dr. Mark Siegler, director of the University of Chicago Maclean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics:

This is shocking. This is much worse than Tuskegee - at least those men were infected by natural means... It’s ironic - no, it’s worse than that, it’s appalling - that, at the same time as the United States was prosecuting Nazi doctors for crimes against humanity, the U.S. government was supporting research that placed human subjects at enormous risk."

Modern medical research is far more scrutinized and regulated by organizations like the UK Medical Research Council and the Institutional Review Board. For example, here are the guidelines for the five Institutional Review Boards of the University of Michigan Medical School. Documents like the Belmont Report and the World Medical Association's Declaration of Helsinki outline ethical principles for the medical community regarding human experimentation. These updated standards ensure that studies like Guatemala and Tuskegee can never officially reoccur.

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/45-controversial-medical-experim...

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Sometimes I'd look at words or pictures but see only meaningless shapes. I'd stare at clocks and not understand what the positions of the hands meant. Words from different parts of a page appeared to be grouped together in bizarre sentences: 'Endangered Condors Charged in Shotgun Killing.' In conversation, I'd think of one word but say something completely unrelated: 'hotel' became 'plankton'; 'cup' came out 'elastic.' I couldn't hang on to a thought long enough to carry it through a sentence. When I tried to cross the street, the motion of the cars became so disorienting that I couldn't move. I was at a sensory distance from the world, as if I were wrapped in clear plastic.
-A Sudden Illness- How My life Changed by Laura Hillenbrand

A traditional case of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) has a sudden onset and is accompanied by flu-like symptoms. One day a person is normal, and the next day, they don't feel like themselves. About 250,000 people in the United Kingdom suffer from myalgic encephalomyelitis. In 1999, DePaul University's Dr. Leonard Jason ran a community-based prevalence study of CFS in the Chicago area, contacing 18,675 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse households. The results indicate that CFS is a chronic condition, overall affecting 422 per 100,000 in the population, or about 836,000 people in the United States (based on the current US population count of 198,107,000 adults aged 18 years and older). 1

ME/CFS first occurred in the US in clusters, initially documented in the 1920s. However, the Centers for Disease Control did not take notice until the mid 1980s.

Chronic Fatigue

The CDC refused to call myalgic encephalomyelitis by its scientific name, rejecting it as "overly complicated and too confusing for many nonmedical persons." The stigma tagged onto a syndrome title (as opposed to a disease) has contributed to the struggle for understanding and recognition of those suffering from ME/CFS. "The CDC name functioned as a kind of social punishment. Patients were branded malingerers by families, friends, journalists and insurance companies, and were denied medical care. (It's no coincidence that suicide is among the three leading causes of death among sufferers.)" -A Case of Chronic Denial, NY Times

Treatment Debate

A new UK study on myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) claims that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) help patients more than adaptive pacing does. Pacing is essentially figuring out how much energy one has on a given day and not expending more than that, while still working to achieve goals without exacerbating the illness.

While CBT may improve quality of life for people with ME/CFS or people with any chronic illness, it most likely cannot improve their somatic symptoms Patients afflicted with ME/CFS  suffer from post-exertional malaise (PEM), which means they can be wiped out for days following minimal physical activity. 

Because of this, GET can be very detrimental to the health of individuals with ME/CFS. Some critics of the study have suggested that the inclusion criteria were too broad and therefore may have incorporated individuals with primary depression, not ME/CFS. Subjects were not required to have PEM, a cardinal symptom of ME/CFS. Both CBT and GET may have increased benefit for individuals with primary psychological issues. Critics of the study have also suggested that the measures used to assess the health outcomes of these trials were inadequate. 

-@BodiesExhibit

1. Jason, L.A.,. Richman, J.A., Rademaker, A.W., Jordan, K.M., Plioplys, A.V., Taylor, R.R., McCready, W., J  Huang,C., & Plioplys, S. (1999). A community-based study of chronic fatigue syndrome. Archives of Internal Medicine, 159, 2129-2137. PMID: 1052

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/44-chronic-fatigue-syndrome.html...

The Love Drug

When a couple has chemistry, they usually have it both figuratively and literally. Behind those sweaty palms, thumping heart, stomach in knots, and nervous jitters is the physiology of love. Such sensations often mark the first stage of a romantic relationship, called limerence.

 

However, post-honeymoon period (anywhere from eighteen months to four years), our chemistry transforms the physical manifestation of love into a different form. In stable, long-term relationships that have reached the secure attachment phase, many people experience a warm, comfortable feeling of security. Attachment love hormones are more comparable to morphine than the cocaine-like high of limerence.

Phenylethylamine and Dopamine

Dopamine_Pathways
The brain's best known love chemical is phenylethylamine, or PEA. It is a naturally occurring amphetamine. Indeed, "love is a drug," says Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and author of Anatomy of Love. According to Dr. Fisher, "the ventral tegmental area is a clump of cells that makes dopamine, a natural stimulant, and sends it out to many brain religions when one is in love. This is the same region affected when you feel the rush of cocaine." Phenylethylamine produces the neurochemical dopamine, and contributes to the pleasurable, on-top-of-the-world feeling that attraction brings. (Source: CBSnews.com) Note: Non-romantic activities that stimulate PEA production are skydiving and eating chocolate.

 

Tolerance for the Love Drug

 

Many scientists believe that after a limerence, typically anywhere from 18 months to 4 years, your body becomes accustomed to those energizing love drugs. Just like you build a tolerance to alcohol, your limbic system adapts to the formerly cocaine-like neurochemical state. In this secure phase of the relationship, your brain produces endorphins, opiates more like morphine than speed. "Unlike PEA, [these endorphins] calm the mind, kill pain, and reduce anxiety," Dr. Fisher explains.

Watch Dr. Helen Fisher discuss The Brain in Love at TED (Via TED 2008, filmed Feb. 2008)

-@BodiesExhibit

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/43-the-love-drug.html#sthash.Z9V...

Abortion: History and Statistics

The practice of pregnancy termination – abortion – became legal in the United States in 1973 after the Supreme Court's decision during the Roe v. Wade trial. Since then, nearly 50 million abortion cases have been documented in the United States. However, pregnancy termination has actually been practiced for centuries.

As early as 9th century B.C., Cambodian women underwent abusive and painful pregnancy termination. These abortions were extremely different than modern Western procedures. One of the most startling facts is that the abortion wasn't performed until the baby was nearly full-term. Practitioners waited until the fetus was big enough to be massaged out of the womb prematurely, causing its skull to crack.

Abortifacient herbs, such as silphium, were also used to terminate an unwanted or socially unacceptable pregnancy in ancient times. Such herbally-induced abortions were more similar to today's legalized morning-after pill and RU-486.

United States records indicate 1.2 million officially documented abortions occurred in 2008, down from 1.3 million the previous year. The pro-choice Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that 35% of all U.S. women will have had an abortion by age 45. As the political/religious/moral debate over reproductive rights rages on, some degree of social stigma arguably remains attached to having an abortion, despite its national legality. Partly because of this stigma, many people may not realize how common abortions are: Nearly 50 million abortion cases have been documented in the U.S. since 1973. (This averages out to 1,315,789 abortions per year over 38 years.)

Over the last decade, the surgical abortion rate has significantly dropped due to the development of RU-486, the so-called abortion pill. Approved by the FDA in 2000, RU-486 is the generic name for mifepristone, the most commonly used non-surgical abortion method. The abortion pill may be administered in the first 63 days of the first trimester. It works by blocking a hormone needed for a pregnancy to continue.

January 10th, 2011 marked the 38th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. President Obama released the following statement: "Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women's health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I am committed to protecting this constitutional right." Things have certainly changed since 800 B.C.

BODIES...The Exhibition displays a fetal gallery that guests are invited to either explore or bypass, as we realize it is a sensitive subject for many. The fetal specimens were all stillbirths (as abortions destroy the fetus). Our galleries show the two stages of prenatal development: embryonic growth and fetal growth. Each stage has a distinct growth pattern. The fetal specimens are not polymer-preserved like the rest of the Exhibition, but are chemically preserved in liquid.

-@BodiesExhibit

- See more at: http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/news/41-abortion-history-statistics.h...

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