In this case, for instance, if ‘no abortion’ is the general rule, then the exceptions to the rule are the varying reasons women have for contemplating abortions. For illustrative purposes, I’ll use Malta. Basically, it’s the only country in the European Union that has a total ban on abortions. This I learnt recently, when I was watching this story on France 24, about a pregnant American woman, who bled profusely when she was on holiday there. She was sixteen weeks pregnant.
The irony of the matter is that she was there with her partner on ‘babymoon’. Before the unfortunate incident, she was actually celebrating the pregnancy. I’m imagining she was ecstatic… anxiously awaiting the birth of her baby. Chances are she even had planned baby names.
Seeing as any pregnant woman would ordinarily be looking forward to holding their little bundle of joy, albeit with a little trepidation because of the birthing process, my lucky guess is that the termination of the pregnancy was the last thing on her mind… least of all, in a foreign country.
The untimely bleeding raptured the amniotic sac, and there was almost no amniotic fluid left. In addition, the placenta was partially detached. This compromised the pregnancy’s viability, with doctors saying there was no chance of the foetus surviving. Shockingly, she was denied a medical emergency abortion, because the foetus still had a heartbeat.
The doctors in Malta were so adamant, that she had to be airlifted to Spain, where abortion is allowed. Though I’m not a medical doctor, I gather her condition made her susceptible to sepsis or haemorrhaging that could lead to death. Then, there is the trauma of knowing she was carrying a foetus that would never develop fully. The anxiety and dread must have been debilitating.
As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, laws are meant to regulate human behaviour; and seeing as respective states assume the paternalistic role, where rules are imposed on us, in an attempt to promote the greater well-being of the members of society, one could try to understand why we have such controversial laws. Nonetheless, for the simple reason that law does not operate in a vacuum, it is safe to say that any person mandated with the responsibility of making laws, should look at each situation holistically before putting that pen to paper.
I must admit, when I was younger, I thought abortion was about young girls seeking termination of their pregnancies because they got into some sexual relations and unexpectedly got pregnant. At that time, I thought abortions, were a misguided/sinful reaction to an issue that had solutions: use of contraceptives, or plain old abstinence. I thought the solution was to foresee the possible obstacles that could arise and be proactive about it: prevent a pregnancy before it happened.
Furthermore, the gory videos I watched as a teenager in sex education class detailing how the foetus is removed from the uterus, especially when it’s at an advanced stage painted abortion in plain black and white. It was ‘murder’! The defenceless foetus died an undignified death. It just felt wrong. I remember feeling particularly scarred. Worse still, were the health risks I learnt the girl/woman could subsequently suffer.
Now, relatively older me, who’s read on issues revolving around ectopic pregnancies, anencephaly, severe pre-eclampsia… traumatic rapes and incest, and the resulting effects of inbreeding… etc.; and older me, who’s come across heart-wrenching instances of women who’ve suffered the agony of having to lose babies they desperately wanted simply because of health issues, realizes that abortion is not a black and white issue; and as such, it would be a grave mistake to collectively label it as murder.
In any case, it is actually a vast grey area that cannot be put under one ‘no abortion’ umbrella. Doing so would be tantamount to hiding behind a veil of unmitigated ignorance; utter ignorance to the real situations that real women go through in real life. So yes, I support life, because it is sacred; however, when we say life, it is not just about the baby’s life, but the woman’s life as well.
This therefore, in my very humble opinion, calls for all concerned authorities to look at the bigger picture, before repressing women’s right to reproductive health; because while laws are important, they will bring more harm than good if they do not take into consideration the real issues in the society. It is a tricky balance, but one that cannot, in my opinion, be avoided.