Choice of Abortion
In Ireland, a husband of a pregnant woman, who died because of septicaemia, claimed that his wife would be alive if she had been allowed to terminate her pregnancy. The relatives of the deceased said that Savita Halappanavar, the Indian dentist, a doctor herself had asked the doctors more than once to terminate the pregnancy. This fetus was supposed to become their firstborn child and the happy parents were waiting impatiently the moment of childbirth. Unfortunately, some complications of the pregnancy caused miscarriage, though doctors stated the fetus had seemed to have palpitation. She felt severe pain in her back, which meant she really have miscarriage. Unfortunately, the doctors answered “Ireland is a catholic state” (BBC Online).
Even though, 2/3 of women live in the countries where abortion is legal under broad grounds, the Irish case is not a solitary instance. Many such cases provoked open harsh polemics on whether abortion should be legal or not. Different surveys all over the world suggest that people would rather become pro-choice supporters and take a stand of a mother. They believe the abortion is acceptable under certain circumstances. Conversely, the pro-life defenders claim that the life starts at the very moment of conception; a fetus is an innocent creature and a future human being. Thus, the deliberate killing should be treated as a murder. From the judicial point of view, human being is not the same as a human person, so it does not have the right for living. This research paper will analyze the reasons and circumstances under which the abortion should be legal, study the cases of mortality and morbidity, moreover evaluate the possible consequences of criminalization of abortion.
According to the World Health Organization, 48% of all induced abortions are unsafe. In countries where abortion procedure is legalized, 92% of abortion are safe, which means that the operations are performed by skilful specialists with the appropriate medical environment. The same organization states that abortion rates are the same in regions where the procedure is under the protection of law and in regions where it is not (WHO). So it seems the legalization of abortion won’t decrease the abortion rates, but at least it could save millions of women’s lives. Before the abortion in the USA got the protection under the law in 1973, thousands of women were harmed because of poor medical conditions, in which the abortion procedure took place. Moreover, well-trained doctors rarely could take a risk to perform abortion illegally. Having elementary surgery instruments, the inexperienced practitioners were doing the termination of pregnancy. This ends with death and suffering of thousands of women as a result of many serious infections. Illegal abortion endangers women’s life and has some repercussions on their health since in order to have an abortion, they drink different poisons, place foreign objects into their vagina, moreover the whole process is not performed with the medical care. For instance, in the South Africa the rate of infections after the unsafe abortion decreased dramatically by 52% after the abortion procedure was legalized (WHO).
The case with Savita Halappanavar represents many other examples when a pregnant woman needs an induced abortion because of her health state. In such situations parents and doctors face complicated dilemma about whose life should be saved. There are many diseases, like heart and kidney diseases, diabetes, hypertension and many others that can lead to severe complications or even death of a mother. Before the abortion was legalized, women had only choice of unsafe abortion or unsafe childbirth. Very often a woman cannot bear a child due to her advanced age. Moreover, in some cases the fetus has different malformations and will not be able to function normally. It seems logically that abortion would be the best solution in case the doctors confirmed some abnormalities.
Another reason of abortion is the unintended pregnancy due to rape or incest. Pro-life supporters argue that the fetus is not guilty, thus should live. But at the same time this potential child would always remind his or her mother about the physical and moral outrage she suffered. Rarely, with already destroyed life a new mother can give her child happy life. A rape victim thinks of her rapist as an evil and forcing a woman to give birth to a child of it would cause complicated psychological problems. It is estimated that sexual violence reached approximately 12 million victims a year (Beebe 9). Recently an anonymous nurse commented the article “Should abortion be legal ?” at TakeOnIt, a website, where experts’ and leaders’ opinions are compared:
I’m a nurse and having seen persons come into the emergency department that have been raped by strangers, friends and even their own husbands, I understand why people choose to make an abortion. I have seen pregnant 11 years old girls, do you think they should carry a child? It’s going to ruin their life and their body. (Anonymous nurse)
According to the structured surveys in 2004 among the most common reasons for an abortion, approximately 74%, was “having a baby would dramatically change my life” and “I cannot afford a baby now” (Lawrence 111). Many women attended the university when got pregnant, they had too good job or, contrary to it, they had no job, so the baby would interfere with their plans. Unmarried, unemployed and under the line of economic survival women cannot raise a child. “We were so hungry, and winter was coming I couldn’t see how I would take care of a baby. I believe you shouldn’t bring into this world what you can’t take care of…I am crying. This child was wanted.” — Linda Rocawich, the Managing Editor of The Progressive, in her article “Desperation” cites the explanation of a woman, who filled out the questionnaire after she had an abortion (Rocawich 18). Many might call such reasons ridiculous since life is more important than status, career or education. But, most of the women would prefer to become economically stable in order to raise a child properly and give him or her the best they can. Deep analysis allows assuming, that the situation, in which a woman that was not ready to raise a child, but was forbidden to have an abortion, can cause some negative consequences. Neglected child brought up in unfriendly atmosphere, where mother always blamed him or her for the lost opportunities can become a tragic example of a problem child. Children need to be loved and have a good family. Besides very often woman already has children and giving birth to another child would cause her family economical problems. We should not forget the fact that often women are afraid of being a single mother or what is more if a husband is abusive to her and her already born children.
Ultimately, a woman is the only one, who will have to go through the process of childbirth, upbringing, apart from the many other daily duties. To meet these obligations would be impossible without the support of a partner or parents.
A woman has the absolute right to do to her body whatever she wants. Pro-life supporters claim the fetus to be an unborn child. In addition, from the biological point of view, a fetus is not a part of woman’s body in the same meaning as kidney or appendicitis so it can be regarded as separate human being. As a matter of law, an embryo is not a person with the right for living, its health depends on mother’s, so it cannot be considered as a separate body. Woman, who carries it, can take control over her reproductive system. Neither of these opponents can clearly answer the question about when life begins, but it seems obvious that the law against abortion can save neither the life of a mother and of a fetus. The National Abortion Federation wrote the following statement in their article “Pro-Choice and Proud”:
Women are capable of making intelligent and conscientious decisions about their own lives and families. Women deserve the autonomy and dignity to act in accordance with their personal convictions, and to decide what is best for their own lives and families. Women should be trusted and respected to exercise the choices about their bodies and lives that are best for them, and not be forced by the government into personal reproductive decisions that are against their will. (NAF)
What if a teenage girl gets pregnant and she doesn’t feel mature enough for being responsible for another person? The main question is that whether a child can bear a child. There’s no doubt that the appropriate sex education and contraception should play the major role in preventing such situations, but if this happens a young woman should have a choice. If a young mother was not allowed to have an abortion, she is likely to have grim future, leave school, neglect her unwanted child, live under the poverty line and likely commit suicide. Besides the age, a woman faces different social, cultural and religious frames, especially in developing countries. Even though, most of the world religions do not accept abortions with the exception of some threatening reasons concerning mother’s life, a young woman would rather sin than become a subject for malicious rumors and ruin her reputation and future.
There is a clinic in St. Louis, state of Missouri, where women were asked to answer questions about what would they do if the abortion were criminalized. L. Rocawich summed up the answers, most of which were having an unsafe illegal abortion whatever it could take, going to another state, country where it was legal. Some would even choose a suicide: “I would have looked for an illegal abortion service or choose an easy way to commit suicide.” — one of the women answers (Rocawich 18).
Everybody knows the women have abortions and the reasons why they make such choices. Even if, we consider the termination of pregnancy to be wrong, we have to leave the decision to be made by individuals under their own circumstances and values. All these reasons why a woman seeks for an abortion do not mean she must terminate her pregnancy, but that she has a choice of whether to leave a baby or not. A pregnant woman in a desperate situation wants the best future for her potential child she could give. In any case, we should support and help a woman to endure such life-altering situation. As we already mentioned, in the vast majority of cases abortions would be made even if they were illegal. The only difference is that illegal abortion is mentally and physically unsafe for a woman. The risk of complications after medical abortion is 3%. The decision to terminate the pregnancy in most cases is not impulsive. The choice should be left for the individuals. For one woman, an abortion can be mentally painful, and for another one the forced childbirth would be equally painful. If a woman was denied to terminate fetal life, in addition to mother’s destroyed life an unwanted newborn child would also get one.
Beebe, Diane. “Sexual Assault: The Physician’s Role in Prevention and Treatment.” Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association 39.10 (1998): 9. Print.
“Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide.” WHO. Web. Oct. 2007.
Lawrence B. et al. “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 37.3 (2005): 110–118. Print.
“Pro-choice and proud.” NAF. Web. 28 May. 2010.
Rocawich, Linda. “Desperation (cover story).” Progressive 56.1 (1992): 18. Print.
Anonymous nurse. Should abortion be legal? TakeOnIt. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.
BBC Online. Woman Dies After Abortion Request ‘Refused’ at Galway hospital. 2012. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.