Is Abortion The Right Way Out Of A Bad Situation?

Even though abortion has been legal in South Africa for more than a decade – as a nation, most are divided on the topic and some have strong views about abortion and if it should be available to woman, who find themselves in a bad situation. When it was legalized in the late 1990s it was done to give women a choice. It was felt that a woman should be able to make decision that affects her body and affects her future. Religious groups have adamantly opposed abortion as they believe that life starts at conception and all life is precious. Anti-abortion activists often put forward the argument that even though women have a choice – what choice is afforded to the unborn foetus?

Out of the abortion debacle, two groups have emerged – Pro Life and Pro Choice. Pro Life activists have put forward the argument that terminating a pregnancy is morally wrong on all levels. A woman who takes this decision on behalf of her unborn child is robbing the foetus of life. Pro Choice rebuts this argument by saying that until the child is born, a foetus is not considered to be a person and as such, it has no right to life. Pro Lifers disagree and claim that legal abortions rob the world and the human race of a contributing human who is prevented from enjoying life and all it’s experiences and making a meaningful contribution to society. Churches, especially the Roman Catholic Church plainly states that  abortion is not only immoral and sinful, but it is violation of the fifth commandment -Thy shall not kill’.

The pro and against debate can range on for all eternity, each group putting forth intellectual and meaningful arguments as to why terminating a pregnancy is immoral, cruel and unjust or not. Many people are of the belief that having this option available or being a legal means to end a pregnancy simply encourages promiscuity and promotes unsafe sex.

However, in a perfect world all pregnancies would always be planned and all children would be wanted – this is not the case. In a perfect world, there would be no teen pregnancies nor would there be unwanted or unplanned pregnancies and there would be no need or reason to terminate a pregnancy. We do not live in a perfect world and with so many cases and reports of child abuse and neglect, Pro Choice believe that taking the decision to end a pregnancy and spare a child from a life of abuse or neglect is the right decision. Those who support the choice are by no means saying it is an easy decision to be made flippantly and the choice to go ahead with the decision is a difficult one that will not be made lightly.

Since the Right to Terminate Act was passed in late 1996, women around the country could visit any one of the abortion clinics in South Africa and exercise their right to choice. Abortions  were being done prior to being legalised, however women were often at the mercy of -back-street abortion doctors’ who, because they were acting illegally, charged high rates and cared little for the health or wellbeing of the mother. Because of the fact that the act was illegal, women were unable to speak of their experiences and they were unable to receive the counselling needed to overcome the traumatic event. Today, clinics (like the Marie Stopes Clinic) offer terminations at affordable rates and the procedure is performed within clean and sterile environments by qualified and caring professionals. Before and after the procedure the mother can undergo counselling sessions and exercise her right to choice, without the fear of persecution.

Those who actively oppose the right to choice and the right to termination should bear in mind that when a woman decides to go through with the procedure, she has probably made one of the hardest decisions of her life. Woman are haunted for years (if not forever) by their decision, yet at the time, the choice to terminate was based on the fact that emotionally or financially she was not ready to become a mother and would be unable to offer the care the child deserved. Pro Lifers may advocate that termination is murder but let’s take into account the millions of unwanted children who struggle each and every day, who face abuse and neglect, who go hungry and who are given little or no love. An abortion may not be the right way out of a bad situation but it may be the only way for thousands of woman who have no means of supporting themselves, let alone a defenceless child.

At the end of the day, the decision should be based on personal choice and the woman making the decision should be supported!


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