It’s been a while since my last article. Hope you didn’t miss me too much… who am I kidding?😒. Okay. What I wanna discuss today is an issue that has caused serious divide in the Irish community in recent months – the case for Abortion. (Edit: Ignore the highlight, after reading a far better blogger‘s article on the same topic, I realised that the referendum is mainly about a woman’s right to choose to abort, and not necessarily the obligation to abort). The contents of this article are likely to trigger some delicate people. Despite the fact that several campaigners on both sides have chosen extremist views on the issue, this is a problem that still needs to be addressed as objectively as possible. All views here are strictly my personal views and do not represent any other group or organisation. So for the sake of time, I’ll discuss only 3 reasons why I might choose Pro-Life, 3 reasons why I might choose Pro-Choice, and then make my final choice on the matter. So please, bear with me 🙂
For my readers abroad, a referendum will be held in Ireland on May 25, 2018, on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment or not. Simply put, the 8th Amendment is an Irish law that bans abortion completely, and it was voted into the Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983. One major effect of this piece of legislation is that most women seeking abortion in Ireland have to travel to England in order to get the procedure done. This way, they can avoid the maximum 14 year jail sentence as a result. Pro-life campaigners advocate the right for unborn babies to live, while pro-choice campaigners advocate the right for expecting mothers to choose to abort.
So without further ado, I’ll start with my reasons for Pro-Life .
- Encouraging Accountability & Responsibility.
I have watched the enthusiasm with which many young people in Ireland have supported the pro-choice campaign. And mostly for good reason. But as a fairly young man myself, (I’m 27 if you’re interested :)), I know that the passion and spontaneity of a young person can sometimes precede their judgment, and prevent them from fully considering the consequences of their actions. If you ask most young Pro-choice campaigners why they support their cause, many state the obvious fact that a woman should be free to do what she wants with her body. I do not disagree with the fact at all. But the laid-back manner in which many people present that argument is setting an extremely dangerous precedent.
Repealing is likely to create a situation in the future where people get so comfortable with the idea of abortion that it becomes normal. And this is especially true in an age where youths feel far more entitled and liberal, now more than ever before. With a successful repeal, there is a danger that young people might approach sex more irresponsibly because we know that an abortion is only an appointment away. You can argue that no one in their right mind would choose to risk an unwanted pregnancy while contraceptives, a much smarter and cheaper alternative, exists. But that is until you realize just how sexually open-minded young people are today. (I’m not really one to talk). I worry that eventually, little thought will be given to the mental, moral and emotional consequences of performing or getting an abortion.
Also, should the Pro-Choice campaign succeed, the financial cost of an abortion will initially be high in Ireland. But given a bit more time and with more readily available practitioners, competition is going to drive the prices down and make abortion far more affordable. And because it is a developed nation, I believe many of the procedures will actually be safe. But whether you agree to it or not, a successful repeal is going to create a demand and supply for abortions, which is exactly what a market is. And because it is decided by referendum, the government will be expected to have little interference in regulating this matter. Such is the fundamental beauty of democracies and its referendums. But when the life at stake is that of an unborn child with little means to defend itself, I fail to see how such a lack of accountability can be fully justified.
2. Treasuring The Basic Value of a Life.
Months ago, around the time when I had just started looking into the Repeal campaign, I heard the phrase ‘Abortion on Demand‘ on the radio for the first time while I was in a taxi on my way home. It was a debate between opposing sides on the issue. But what struck me was how easily the phrase ‘Abortion on Demand’ was being thrown around.
… Abortion on fucking demand.
Basically, that is putting obtaining abortions on a similar level as takeaway food. Hungry? Call your local pizzeria or Chinese and get your food delivered to you in a heartbeat. That phrase alone is a determinant of how little our appreciation of the gift of life has become. Maybe it has always been that way, I do not know. The context of that radio discussion might have been entirely different, but I do not know that because my bias caused my attention to drift as soon as I heard Abortion on Demand. Throughout history, we’ve observed how various religious and political themes, oaths and symbols have greatly conditioned people’s thoughts, actions and beliefs subconsciously. I’ll use a simple example, just go out on the street in Ireland today and ask people what they think about when they hear the word ‘Repeal.’ Even if some may not know the meaning of the word, a majority would likely know that it is associated with the abortion campaign in some way. Constant Exposure and Repetition -That is how this kinda subconscious conditioning works.
The same works for a phrase like Abortion on Demand. Say the phrase enough times and you might convince yourself that an abortion is really not that big of a deal. I worry that over time, such an approach will eventually lead people to take the decision to discuss, undergo or perform an abortion with little seriousness. And as far as I am concerned, juggling the lives of the innocent is nothing to joke about as it is a huge disrespect to the fundamental value of human life.
3. The Right of the Mother & Father to keep the child.
This one is a bit more personal as I know a friend who had to get an abortion because of peer, parental and extended family pressure. And this is back in Cameroon. Also, a family’s disapproval of an unplanned pregnancy or disapproval of the child’s father may drive them to pressure the mother into aborting her unborn child. I cannot say for certain to what extent this occurs in Ireland, but where I’m from, the family of a mother-with-child usually has a lot of say in the affairs of the unborn child – even more so in a situation where the child is conceived out of wedlock. And this is where local and religious values become a serious problem.
Many areas in Sub-Saharan Africa have incredibly strong religious, prestige and traditional views. In respect of the sacrament of marriage, a child conceived out of wedlock brings disgrace to the family of the mother. The family’s public image usually comes first before the mother’s needs. And most families will do anything to save face in their communities. Such measures could range from forcing the mother to marry asap (so the unborn child will at least be born in marriage), to pressuring the poor girl into an abortion – usually at extreme risk to her life.
This situation is just not right. And there are cases where the father, who has as much right to decide in the unborn child’s affairs, suddenly has absolutely no say in the matter. If the mother, who is the actual child-bearer, has had her rights stripped from right under her, just how much say do you think the father would have? I can’t say this happens in Ireland as I don’t know about this. But I want y’all to know that this happens elsewhere.
I promised I’ll keep my points at only three each. So now, I’ll go with my reasons for Pro-Choice.
Because we are on the topic of pregnancy and abortions, my discussion of rape here is only limited to victims that are young girls and women. Rape is probably the most popular vehicle for the Pro-Choice campaign, especially among teenage and young adult campaigners. And rightly so. But I feel like many young campaigners for Pro-choice don’t fully understand the weight of what they’re campaigning for. And so sometimes, it seems like this Repeal campaign is being treated like a fad, another trend for the hashtags, a bandwagon kinda thing. Oh… if you wonder why I keep bringing up young people, it is simply because they are the majority, and have the most power in affecting the outcome of this upcoming referendum. I also want to make sure that if I present my case for Pro-Choice, then I am to be put in the same box as those that have seriously thought about this – and not trend lovers.
Here goes. Rape is a seriously under-reported crime in most places, especially when the act does not result in pregnancy. I don’t think any parent wants to raise an unwanted baby, even moreso if the unborn child is a product of non-consensual sex. The guilt, trauma, feeling of powerlessness and emotional torment prevents most women from coming forward or seeking help on the matter. We should be sensitive to this, as the plight of rape victims requires a lot of compassion. I really wonder just how many campaigners take these into serious consideration when presenting their case for Pro-Choice.
Some victims gather the courage to report such a case because a pregnancy cannot be hidden for long. And even when they do, I’ve read that the bureaucracy from the authorities usually makes things even more difficult. I’m no expert on the issue, so I cannot really say for sure how easy or how difficult it is to arrive at a decision. Emotions are not very straightforward. And I believe that cases involving complex emotions can be extremely difficult to solve, and we need to understand that in some cases, a decision cannot be arrived at so easily.
Despite all of that, a woman that conceives a child through rape still suffers indignity whether or not she chooses to keep the child. An indignity that she may never be able to live off for the remainder of her life. It can be argued that rape alone is not enough grounds to carry out an abortion, but that does not mean the status quo should not be challenged. In cases such as these, I think this is a fair reason for the mother to choose to abort the child. This is not a simple decision for me, as I am pretty sure that the real battle for the mother usually comes with the guilt after carrying out the abortion. So whether or not an abortion is carried out under the fact or pretext of rape, there is no scenario where the mother really wins.
2. Protecting the Physical and Mental State of the mother.
A mother with a history of physical or mental health issues may not be a very good candidate for childbirth. Sometimes, there is a risk that bearing a child may directly put the mother’s life at serious risk. In cases like this, I will usually take a utilitarian standpoint on the matter. Meaning that I believe the mother’s life has far more value than that of the unborn child. And as easy as this sounds, we all should appreciate the fact that determining whose life has more value does not come easy. I also believe this is the kind of scenario where the ‘a-woman-should-do-whatever-she-wants-with-her-body’ argument has some relevance. Before you jump me, understand that I fully support the fact that we should have full control over our bodies. I just don’t support the fact that moral virtues should be readily sacrificed in order to exercise this fundamental right.
Look… it just bothers me how easily many pro-choice campaigners advocate the right for a woman to do whatever the hell she wants with her body. I am a man. I have no say in what a woman should do with her body. But when you casually use that argument in relation to taking a life that is not yours, then we have a slight problem. The biggest one being the fact that just because you possess the natural gift to carry a life inside of you, does not necessarily give you the right to take it when you feel like it. The same goes for normal situations in everyday life where you need help and someone helps you out. Just because someone saves your life does not mean they get to choose how to spend it.
But back to my initial point, if there is a serious threat to the mother’s mental and physical health as a result of childbearing, I believe she has the right to choose to abort.
3. Pregnancy despite Correct Use of Contraceptives and Responsible Family Planning.
This is me just forcing two points into one. Most contraceptives are very safe, but there is no 100% guarantee. Sometimes, a couple may engage in sex while using contraceptives, without considering the possibility of malfunction. Hey, even rockets blow up on launch day despite round-the-clock teams and countless calculations. This is especially a concern for couples that already have children, as the breaking of a condom or ineffectiveness of a pill may mean that they have to accommodate another child they did not plan for.
To me, marriage is not the single most important display of a couple’s love and devotion to one another – choosing to make and raise children together is. And if you know you’re not mentally ready to take care of them – or unable to provide the most basic needs for them, then don’t make babies. Most people use contraceptives in order to prevent this and shit still happens. But considering the circumstances, and the couple’s full consent and understanding of the consequences of an abortion, I have to agree that there is a case here for abortion, although reluctantly so.
We’re finally at the end. A few more points I would have loved to talk about include ;
- The grey area when it is okay to terminate a fetus or not – 3 weeks? 8 weeks? 6 months? etc.
- ‘Indirect rape’?: one where sex is fully consensual, but the conscious decision by the man to ejaculate inside the woman definitely isn’t. This happens quite commonly.
- The injustice that makes women fully responsible in situations where they fall pregnant.
- An abnormal fetus
- The proposed bill that ‘more or less‘ permits indiscriminate abortion as long as the fetus is under three months old.
- The fact that abortion is expensive and used as a last resort. Hell, who in their right minds would willingly give up contraceptives because the next best alternative is abortion?
But for the sake of time, I’ll just end it here. I’m not big into politics. But given that this issue has become heavily politicized, I have to thank the idea of Liberalism for getting people to talk about this. We also have Liberalism to thank for things like gender equality, religious tolerance, freedom of speech, freedom of sexual orientation and so on. But these all affect grown- ups that can make conscious decisions for themselves – not the unborn.
I have thought about this a lot. I wish there was an option to legalize abortion under regulated circumstances. But there isn’t. And with the way ideas are constantly being revised in our time, I know for a fact that Repealing the 8th Amendment can only be delayed, but not stopped. And should the Pro-Choice campaign lose on the 25th, I know the Repeal will still happen down the line.
But until then… I am Pro-Life.
Thank you for reading this far and good luck to the voters.
Now it’s your turn to let your opinions flood the comments section. Keep it civil, much love. X