Abortion: Yea or Nay?

By http://mariann.deviantart.com/
By http://mariann.deviantart.com/

To Bee Honest…

I rarely write about my career for a myriad of reasons. If I had to pick the main reason would be that the limitless potential of the internet make want to keep my experiences personal yet somewhat distant. Change is the only constant right? So today I deviate from my self-imposed rule.

My career is in public health, hence the hospital related NYSC posts, and this is relatively common knowledge among my friends. What many are unaware of is my focus/passion is the sexual and reproductive health field, specifically the sexual health portion of things. When I speak passionately about birth control, access to contraceptives and sexual health education for adolescents and especially abortion, people frequently ask, “Are you Christian?” There is no simple answer to that question. I am Christian, however as a public health researcher I believe my calling is to find ways to improve the health of a population. This is impossible to achieve if I spend my time projecting my religious or moral believes unto others. My fundamental belief is that health is a right and it’s a right I am passionate about protecting. People should not be denied knowledge or access to health services they need because of mine or anyone else’s religious leanings.

I actually haven’t even thought about this in a while but the return/rescue of some teenager girls in Northern Nigeria made me start thinking again. These girls were kidnapped by the terrorist organization, Boko Haram, and a large portion of these girls have been reported pregnant. While on the phone with my mother she was fuming over the Catholic Bishops opposition to abortions for the girls. I was sure this couldn’t be factual and went online in search of more evidence. Here’s and excerpt from what I found:

“Uworen went on to state: “We cannot be persuaded by the shallow arguments being promoted by some individuals and groups which obviously mean repaying violence with even a more vicious violence. “Specifically, it is not tenable the suggestion that killing the babies conceived through rape by the terrorist is the most humane action to take in this instance. Since the babies are ignorant and innocent of the crimes (aggression, sexual assault, dehumanization) against their mothers, it is unethical to punish them for the sins and offences of their erring fathers.

“How can we accept to visit with capital punishment (death sentence by abortion) on young Nigerians simply because their fathers were misguided religious and ideological bigots?” he asked.”

Full Story Here

The blog title is purposely over-simplistic as are the arguments of pro-life and pro-choice. They both create an illusion of two options only, turning monumental life decisions with multiple shades of color into black or white, right or wrong. With this in mind arguing generally about abortion I believe would result in a blog post with a number of logical fallacies and since Philosophy 101 I try really hard to avoid those when I can.

In countries with stringent abortions policies there seem support for the idea that restricting abortion equals in the elimination of abortions. History tells a different story, read anything from actual historical works to romance novels and you will find evidence that women from time immemorial have always found ways to abort babies they couldn’t or didn’t want to have. Recent scientific data also lends no support to this idea that women do not commit abortions in restrictive countries.It has been suggested that in low and middle income countries the leading cause of death of young girls, 15-19, are complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth, and an estimated 2 .2 million to 4 million unsafe abortions occurred in 2008 among this group [1]. Moving beyond history books or statistics I remember hearing all sorts of gruesome stories in secondary school about girls using metal hangers to abort babies, no clue if these are real or not, but as we like to say there’s no smoke without a fire.I have also heard from friends who are now medical doctors of the many young women who come through their doors at deaths doors due to botched abortions.

Like I mentioned earlier I am not arguing for legalization of abortions, the earlier paragraph was simply setting the groundwork for the fact that abortions can and do occur even in societies that disallow them. Now back to the issue of these young pregnant girls. The bishops do a great job of acknowledging the reasons why an abortion would be unfair to the baby but what about the “mother”? Is she to be turned into an unwilling incubator? I cannot even imagine the horrors these young women endured, most like raped multiple times by unknown and uncaring men. Simply surviving a kidnapping without sexual assault could take years to heal from and even then the scars remain. To ask that these young girls who by no stretch of the imagination must be suffering psychological and physical trauma carry to term the children of the rapist and have them because it is “unethical” to abort them. Unethical for who I ask?

Let’s even imagine a situation in which these young girls are coerced to have these babies. Can you imagine what their feelings towards these children would be? Do you think they will suckle them at their breasts smiling beatifically while their families wait on them and announce the arrival of their newest family member? How will these children grow up in communities where everyone is aware of their life stories before they have the opportunity to tell it? What would be the fate of these children we forced their mothers to bear?

I also do not support those calling for the girls to have abortions. If some or even all of these girls want to carry the children to term and have them, with support from their family and community, then I applaud them for they are stronger than I ever could be. NO ONE has the right to make such life changing decisions for them. For anyone though to sit on their high horse and say what these young girls should or should not do is not only unethical, I think it is inhumane. I believe in the ideals of being pro-life, but I always have to ask, whose life do we place the premium on?


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