Abortion for or against

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Introduction

Abortion remains a contentious issue around the world. While some countries have established laws to restrict this practice, others remain adamant that abortion is a crime and unacceptable. In the United States, the constitution sets limits on the creation of abortion regulations by the federal government, as well as the states. In regions such as Northern Ireland and England, abortion is considered a criminal offence owing to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA), which was put in place way before married women could legally own property or participate in elections. Despite the criminalization of abortion, the practice persists worldwide. In 2012, a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that almost half of the abortions performed globally are unsafe, with almost 98% of the unsafe abortions occurring in developing countries. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of unsafe abortions was approximately 25 million per annum, 45 % of the total number. This means that more than 55 million abortions occur every year. Considering the dangers of unsafe abortion and other factors, I seek to explain why abortion should be made legal and acceptable to women around the world.

Why Allow Abortion?

Religious Beliefs Are Not Universal

Some of the most popular arguments provided against abortion revolve around religious beliefs and practices. These arguments emanate from those who practice religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and others. From a Christian perspective, abortion is prohibited for being a sin. Given that the fetus is a living being inside the mother’s womb, procuring an abortion is equated to killing. This contravenes one of the Ten Commandments given to Moses, which clearly instructs people not to kill. On this basis, Christians feel obligated to avoid what is sinful.

In addition, it is believed that the fetus should be allowed to live as a matter of right. Just as the mother was given the chance to live so should the unborn child. Denying the baby this chance is deemed selfish and morally evil. Compromise is only permissible in special situations such as when keeping the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. In such cases, safety precautions should be undertaken. Similarly, abortion is deemed unacceptable among most Muslims although a section of believers pose opposing views. Just like other major religions around the world, Islam views life as sacred, needing protection. Therefore, most Muslim countries forbid abortion unless a maternal health threat arises. Similar views are shared by those who subscribe to Hinduism. However, in this case, the main arguments against abortion stem from the doctrine of reincarnation. Abortion denies the fetus a chance to earn good karma in its lifetime, hindering its spiritual progress.

These and other religious objections of abortion have one thing in common. They fail to recognize that not all people subscribe to religious beliefs and practices. Atheists, for example, are opposed to belief that deities exist. Therefore, they are unlikely to agree with the sentiments based on different religious texts. Other people neither refer to themselves as atheists nor subscribe to a particular religion. Their actions are guided by personal convictions or other factors known to them. Clearly, it is wrong to dictate people’s actions from a religious viewpoint. Any mother that wishes to abort should be allowed to do so at will, even though their action may be seen as sinful or unacceptable among those affiliated to certain religious beliefs.

Unsafe Abortion on the Rise

Studies show that criminalizing abortion does not hinder people from engaging in the practice. Many more people continue to perform abortions in regions where it is prohibited. In fact, criminalizing abortion or dismissing it as morally unacceptable has led to the rise of unsafe abortion practices. As earlier mentioned, almost half of the abortions procured globally are unsafe, especially in the developing countries. Therefore, in my opinion, abortion should be allowed as a means of alleviating the dangers posed by unsafe practices. I believe that allowing women to abort at will would go a long way in reducing maternal deaths and other complications associated with abortion.

Unsafe abortion is to blame for around 14.5% of the total maternal deaths recorded worldwide per annum. A majority of these deaths occur in countries that have established restrictive abortion laws, making it difficult for mothers to access safe medical procedures. They result to using the services of quack medical practitioners or attempt to perform the procedure on their own. When these methods fail, the mothers loss their lives or are left with lasting health complications. Some countries propose alternative ways of preventing unintended pregnancies such as the use of contraception. However, it is common knowledge that none of the available contraception techniques are 100% effective. For this reason, accidental pregnancies occur, which WHO estimates to be 33.5 million annually. The stigma surrounding abortion together with harsh regulations push many of these women to follow risky procedures. I strongly believe that many lives can be saved if the affected persons are allowed to access safe abortion services without stigmatization or legal restrictions. There is adequate evidence to support this claim.

In 1965, a hasty decision to outlaw abortion in Romania led to a rapid increase in abortion-related deaths. The figures rose from 15 deaths for every 100,000 live births to more than 140 deaths for the same number of live deaths. When the country eventually removed the abortion restrictions, there was a dramatic decrease in mortality. Similar results were recorded in South Africa following the establishment of the Choice on Termination of pregnancy Act. Deaths related to abortion reduced from 425 in 1994 to approximately 40 deaths a year, an outstanding 91% decrease.

Further, Canada removed abortion restrictions in the late 1980s. Medical practitioners began to procure safe abortions like they would perform other medical procedures. This move was of great benefit to pregnant mothers and the country in general. Since then, abortion rates have been on the decline, not to mention lower complication and death rates. Canadian private clinics usually perform around 50% of the abortions by 16 weeks of pregnancy, as early abortions are considered safer. Today, deaths arising from legal abortion in the country are virtually unheard of. The statistics provided above are proof that other countries should follow suit. It is unwise to prohibit abortion and risk the lives of millions of mothers who may have solid reasons for terminating their pregnancies. Law amendments are necessary as well as a change in people’s attitudes and perceptions towards the practice.

Financial Constraints

Various researchers have explored the reasons why some women choose to terminate their pregnancy. Many of these women cite their inability to take care of the child due to financial constraints. This is evidenced in a study conducted in the United States to unearth the reasons for abortion among women. According to the researchers, such studies can inform policy concerning unwanted pregnancies and abortion, and help initiate public debate on these sensitive issues. Data collected from over 1000 women indicated that as many as 73% of them had procured an abortion because they could not afford to bring up their babies. Financial constrains often emerge from broken relationships that leave the mother to take care of the child on their own, unemployment, low paying jobs, as well as young age that make it impossible for the mother to get a job. Most of these are genuine concerns that should be addressed when drafting abortion policies, considering that these women may not get additional financial support from the government, relatives, or the community in general. Many solely carry the burden of bringing up children.

Forbidding abortion among women who are incapable of raising children due to financial problems causes more problems to the mother, children, and the society. First, parenting under such circumstances takes a toll on the parent, both emotionally and physically. They have to exert themselves as much as possible to make ends meet, probably taking up two or more jobs. They are torn between being close to their children and earning an income. Financial strain may also cause mental illnesses such as stress and depression, especially among single mothers. Mental illness is not only harmful to the mother but also affects how the child is brought up. Depression for one has been associated with harsh disciplinary practices among the affected parents and reduced parental support and nurturance. The poor parents are constantly under stress, sometimes experiencing untold despair and hopelessness. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to for the parents to give children as much attention as they need. I, like many people, have witnessed children grow under very difficult circumstances and would wish that every child gets good care. This can be achieved by letting those who are financially incapacitated abort at will.

Other issues that may arise in the society include increased rates of homelessness, illiteracy, drug abuse, crime, and other social pathologies. Homelessness may occur when a parent is unable to afford the family upkeep. When they have tried all other alternatives, they result to temporary shelters. Illiteracy too arises when children lack the financial and emotional support they need to join school. Illiteracy coupled with childhood delinquency arising from parenting inefficiencies go hand-in-hand with crime and substance abuse. These problems can be alleviated by letting mothers choose when to have children and abort when necessary.

Cases of Rape and Incest

Every woman dreads any form of sexual violence. It is even worse when it is the case of rape resulting to pregnancy. This act is traumatizing to the victim and could lead to lasting health, emotional, and psychological effects. Other women have to bear the double tragedy of being raped by people closest to them such as relatives. It is only wise to handle the victims of these acts with great care. To understand the kind of danger that rape poses around the world, it is important to examine the available statistics on the crime. Data obtained by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2008 and 2009 indicated that the number of people who were raped in the United States were 203,830 and 125,910 respectively. This means that many women are affected in the country since there are more female rape victims than males. In Wales and England, Rape Crisis Centers received the highest number of helpline calls in the region’s history between 2016 and 2017. The total number of calls were more than 200,000. There was a 29% increase in the specialist support sessions held for rape victims including counselling, advocacy and counselling. Moving on to Africa, rape is considered a silent epidemic in Nigeria. A recent study shows that more than 30% of sexually active adolescent females in the country report forced sex. There are also reports that between 4% and 6% of adolescent girls residing in South-western Nigerian have been raped.

The figures provided above are adequate proof that many women are suffering around the world. Rapists subject them to physical injury no to mention the risk of pregnancy and diseases. The victims carry untold emotional and psychological that should not be intensified by forcing them to keep pregnancies against their will. While some may opt to raise children born off rape, many others would rather avoid the constant reminder of the inhumane act. One way of getting rid of the bad memories is terminating the pregnancy. I strongly feel that any rape victim wishes to procure an abortion should be allowed to do so without stigmatization or legal restrictions.

Personal Rights and Freedom

Lastly, I believe that women should abort because they have power over their bodies and the right to choose. How people choose to handle their bodies should not be dictated upon by policy or perceived moral obligation in the society. Besides, the procedure is performed on an individual and does not have a direct impact on other people’s lives. It is also worth noting that most abortions are carried out in the early weeks after conception. The fetus is not fully developed and is totally dependent on the mother. The health of the mother is crucial to the survival of the fetus, hence the later cannot be considered a separate entity. Such considerations would only be made if it were able to survive on its own outside the womb. Therefore, the mother has the power and freedom to decide whether to keep the baby. If the current circumstances make it difficult to raise a child properly, then abortion (at free will) is a good option.

Conclusion

This paper provides strong arguments that emphasize the need to decriminalize and accept safe abortion practices in the society. As seen above, people hold varying religious beliefs while others do not subscribe to any religion. This means that any argument against abortion that is based on religious beliefs can only apply to those affiliated to a particular religious group. Additionally, restricting abortion leads to the rise in unsafe abortions that could increase infant and maternal mortality rates and cause lasting health complications. Financial constraints too should not be ignored, considering that money is needed for survival. Many mothers would rather raise children when they have adequate resources to ensure proper upbringing. Abortion can also help alleviate the emotional and psychological pain arising from rape or incest. However, I acknowledge that other people may have contradicting views on abortion. Therefore, an individual’s right to choose is of great importance.

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  1. McBride, Dorothy E. Abortion in the United States: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO, 2007.
  2. Sheldon, Sally. “The Decriminalisation of Abortion: An Argument for Modernisation.” The Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 36, no. 2, 2016, pp. 334-365.
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  4. Faundes, Anibal, and Shah, Iqbal. “Evidence supporting broader access to safe legal abortion.” International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, vol. 131, suppl. 1, 2015, pp. s56-s59.
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  6. Finer, Lawrence B., Frohwirth, Lori F., Dauphinee, Lindsay A., Singh, Susheela and Moore, Ann M. “Reasons U.S. women have abortions: quantitative and qualitative perspectives.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 37, no. 3, 2005, pp. 110-119=8.
  7. Walker, Carl. Depression and Globalization: The Politics of Mental Health in the 21st Century. Springer, 2008.
  8. Moore, Robert M. The Hidden America: Social Problems in Rural America for the Twenty-First Century, Susquehanna University Press, 2001.
  9. Truman, Jennifer and Rand, Michael. “Criminal Victimization.” Bureau of Justice Statistics, Oct. 2010, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv09.pdf.
  10. “Rape Crisis England & Wales headline statistics 2016-17.” Rape Crisis, https://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php, accessed 24 Nov. 2017.
  11. Folayan, Morenike, O., Odetoyinbo, Morolake, Harrison, Abigail and Brown, Brandon. “Rape in Nigeria: a silent epidemic among adolescents with implications for HIV infection.” Global Health Action, vol. 7, 2014, pp. 1-2.
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