By Justus Atuti
Abortion has been a controversial subject in the contemporary world for a very long time. Legislation after legislation have been passed in all nations of the universal village, with pressure groups mushrooming in support for or against abortion.
In the United States, abortion remains illegal in most states, though it still is acceptable in other states. In Kenya, the subject remains controversial and is an untouched topic. The bigger question for the larger picture is; is abortion moral or immoral, right or wrong? What is this abortion, and why is it so controversial? Why does it draw so much attention universally, leaving the for and against camps divided at the middle?
Abortion is a deliberate termination of a pregnancy. It is an early stop to the development of a fetus, so that it is not fully formed. It is the knowing destruction, or intentional destruction expulsion or removal of a fetus from the motherâ€™s womb at any point in the pregnancy. Many clinics today perform abortion upfront, though abortion remains a back street act.
For several decades now, there have been several litigation meant to draw a clear line whether abortion should be allowed or not, and whether it is right or wrong, moral or immoral. To date, The Congress, The US House of Representatives and the senate have failed to come into a common ground on whether abortion is right or wrong. But as at today, the judicial interpretation of the constitution of the United States is that abortion is legal but may be controlled by affected states to varying degrees.
In the 1973 Roe Vs Wedi court decision, the supreme court of the United States ruled that women, in consultation with their families and physicians were constitutionally protected to have an abortion in the early stages of their pregnancy, free from government interference.
Today though, the country is in a limbo, unable to agree on the way forward. This has made some states ( like California) legalizing abortion, while others (like Minnesota) hold dissenting views on the same. Politically, while the democrats believe that abortion should be exclusively a personal choice of a woman, her family, and her doctor, their Republican counterparts feel that abortion should remain illegal and should in fact be totally banned with constitutional amendment to meet the same.
For those who argue in support of abortion, the argument remains that, abortion is the business of a woman and should be left exclusively for her to make a choice on whether to keep a pregnancy or not. No woman should be subjected to a compulsory pregnancy. Women feel they should have a full moral right to control their own bodies as they wish. By choosing an abortion, the woman feels that she is exercising her rights of body integrity as constituted in the supreme laws of the United States.
A woman must therefore have the autonomy to say yes or no to any pregnancy. This is critical to civil rights. Take away a womanâ€™s reproductive choice and you step onto a slippery slope. Therefore, nobody, not even the government should claim autonomy in forcing a woman to keep a pregnancy she doesnâ€™t want. No woman should be subjected to a compulsory pregnancy as this violates her rights to exercise her basic right to control her bodily integrity as advocated for by
the laws of the land.
They argue that, since a fetus is not a person, it should never be given full moral rights as a real person. There is a general argument that a fetus can only be recognized to be a person only if and when it can be able to survive outside the motherâ€™s womb. This recognition starts at the 24th week. Nearly all abortions take place during the trimester, when a fetus cannot exist independent of the mother. Since it is attached to umbilical cord, its healthy depends on hers, and cannot be recognized as a separate entity. Therefore the fetal interests cannot outweigh the interests of the woman. It is not worth forcing someone to do what she really doesnâ€™t want to. Pregnancy is only a biological process that can be terminated without the feeling of guilt.
There are compelling reasons that someone could want to perform an abortion. This includes rape and forced pregnancies. If for example one is raped or made pregnant by a father, a brother or a relative for that matter, it would be haunting to keep the pregnancy. The only option so as to avoid the shame and the guilt one has to live with all her life is to terminate the pregnancy through an abortion.
In the case of incest or rape, forcing the woman to keep the pregnancy from this inhuman and violent act would cause further psychological harm to her as a victim. Teenagers too who become mothers in their early years darken their future prospects. They may drop out of school, and might end up relying on public assistance to raise up the child and may both the child and the mother end up developing health issues.
Another reason why they argue in support of a pregnancy termination is in the case of abnormal births and in cases where one is at an advanced age. For example, if it has been established that the baby to be born has side effects like mental or physical defects, women feel it fair to have the pregnancy terminated. And in the cases where the mother is in an advanced age, there is a general possibility that the child to be born might develop complications. Therefore an abortion is viable, instead of living with pain and suffering throughout their lives. Have we ever imagined what mentally deformed persons go through in the days of their lives? Wouldnâ€™t it be fair enough if their lives were terminated at conception, just before their birth?
But is performing an abortion morally right? Is an abortion a legitimate undertaking? Letâ€™s look at this in a more elaborate way.
Life begins at conception and therefore a fetus is fully entitled to enjoy the human rights, just like all of us. They have rights like everybody else that should be respected and upheld. The fetus should be held as a potential human being. I feel the fetus, regardless of how old it may be, should be looked at as a full human being, with rights to life, just like everybody else.
An abortion that involves depriving this fetus the very bare minimum needs for survival is a crime in itself. This is murder at its best. One way of causing oneâ€™s death, thatâ€™s murder, is through depriving him or her the very basics he or she needs for survival by discontinuing a personâ€™s receipt of what he or she needs for survival , or by refraining from providing to these needs. And this is what an abortion does to a fetus. As much as we look at ourselves as persons, letâ€™s also look at this fetus as a potential person with full rights to life and its basics. And since the fetus is in a womanâ€™s body, she is legally bound to provide for it the basic needs.
A human life has an intrinsic value right from conception. Life begins at conception. A fetus should be looked at as an immature form of a human life and should therefore be safeguarded without excuses, and given time and the necessary support to mature. Just like all of us, a fetus can also have a future and should not be deprived of it at all costs.
There are those who have religious views on abortion. Abortion is ungodly. It is inhuman and unreligious. Almost all religions believe life to begin at conception. The Budhists for example believe that life is a continuous process and has therefore no place for an abortion. Christians believe abortion to be a sin at all stages, regardless of the reasons. The Islamic scholars have not drawn a clear time when a fetus becomes a human being. Therefore, abortion after 120 days is not permissible, unless if the mother is in danger or raped.
Performing an abortion leaves one with a guilt conscience for as long as they live. Those who choose abortions as alternatives happen to be minors who understand little on what life entails. They have little experience in life and they end up regretting in future. The worst scenario is in a case where she is unable to be pregnant again due to a medical complication, especially when she needs it most.
In fact abortion frequently causes intense psychological pain and stress. For the women who demand for a complete control of their bodies, control should include prevention of unwanted pregnancies through responsible sex practice, use of contraceptives or at most, practice abstinence. Abortion should not therefore be used as another form of contraception.
In the cases of incest or rape, proper and immediate medical attention can ensure that the woman in question doesnâ€™t get pregnant. Abortion punishes the unborn innocent child, who eventually carries the sins of the perpetrator.
Whatever the reason, abortion is ungodly. It is unclean and amounts to murder. Regardless of how many amendments we may make to our constitution to accommodate abortion, nothing will make it a clean practice. It is an irresponsible practice, an inhuman handling of our fellow unborn and potential human being, a practice that should be fully condemned and rejected in our society, as we advocate for safe and responsible behavior of our fellow women, who might be forced to seek solace in abortion in future.
Abortion remains only a quick fix to the social disorder and malpractice in our society, marked with rampant decadency of morality and ethics. The society should come up with a better way to restore order and responsibility, rather than hide in a quick-fix-it solution in abortion, to cover the shame and the guilt. Parents should enlighten their growing children as to the importance of accepting and taking responsibility in their lives as they mature to adulthood. Our governments and all institutions of learning too should join the race of enlightenment, just as the church should, so as to reduce the incidences of unwanted pregnancies that might end up in an abortion practice.