As this post’s title suggests, this pro-life/pro-choice debate is a hard topic. With me for instance, I am pro-life, not because I do not think women’s right to reproductive health is important, but because I also take into consideration, the unborn baby’s right to life. I believe life begins at conception, and every life is sacred. That said, do I think women should have a right to abort if they so choose? Absolutely!
Nonetheless, I cannot also ignore the fact that there are competing rights in every situation that calls for abortion. Essentially, it comes down to making a choice between the mother’s overall health, and the unborn baby’s life. Now regarding the latter, question is, what if the mother’s life is not necessarily at risk, neither is the baby’s per se, for the entire pregnancy term; but, tests show the baby will be born with a serious congenital defect, such as anencephaly (a condition where a baby is born with part of the brain underdeveloped, and an incomplete skull)?
Studies have shown that an anencephalic baby might be stillborn; and, if they survive, they only remain alive for a few hours or days after birth. When faced with a similar predicament, some parents have chosen to have their baby, regardless of the high risk of death, whereas some choose to terminate the pregnancy, and understandably so. In light of this, it is impossible to have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ standard, to determine when to choose life.
As a practicing lawyer, the line of work I chose puts me at a crossroads; I’m a human rights lawyer, who is very passionate about the rights of children, women, and the vulnerable categories of people in general. Therefore when faced with a situation where I need to advise on the need for abortions, I would highly discourage it if it’s not a medical emergency. That said, I am of the firm belief, the right to choose whether to have an abortion or not, should be an available option to anyone who finds themselves in that predicament.
Arguably, when it comes to the pro-life debate, most people’s arguments are premised on the notion of induced abortions resulting from unplanned pregnancies, instead of looking at the ‘bigger picture’, which includes medical abortions and other issues such as rape… That is why I find it perilous to maintain a hard-line stance on the restriction of abortions; because there are numerous intervening factors.
In my thinking, the ban on abortions should not be an umbrella ban. In law, when it comes to tendering evidence before court, there are relatively strict rules of evidence, which determine what is relevant, admissible or inadmissible… etc. However, one key thing I learnt in my evidence law class, is that ‘to every general rule, there is an exception’… and that, I’m realizing, isn’t just a legal concept, but a principle that cuts across all facets of life.
In this case, for instance, if ‘no abortion’ is the general rule, then the exceptions to the rule are the reasons women have for contemplating abortions. It is easy to judge women who seek abortions, but unless we walk a mile in their shoes, their plight might be lost on us. Some of us castigate others, until a similar predicament befalls us, or a close relative/friend. We do not have to experience the pain, to understand someone else’s pain.