A Woman Should Never Be Punished For Decisions About Her Own Body
We need to talk about abortion
There’s been a lot of talk about abortion in the media lately. In America this week, a certain *ahem* political figure even called for “some sort of punishment” for women who have them. This is wrong. Here’s why:
The pro-choice argument states that women have a moral right to decide what to do with their bodies. That a woman has a moral right to control her body, her future and her independence.
The argument against this - the pro-life argument - states that life begins at conception and at that point the foetus is independent to the women and therefore not hers to control. Pro-choice doesn’t ignore ethical implications of an abortion, but sees abortion as the best of a number of bad options for both the mother and the child.
Unwanted pregnancy can happen for a huge range of reasons, many of them out of woman’s control –from the most extreme like rape, right down to the simple fact that no form of contraception is 100% effective. But whatever the cause, a women should have the option to control their own lives.
Making the decision to have an abortion is often a very difficult one - one that nobody would ever want to choose to have to make. Making abortion illegal, or threatening punishment for those who get abortions, doesn’t stop them, it just makes them unsafe. Abortion rates in regions such as Africa and Latin America where abortion is largely illegal, aren’t any lower – in fact they’re considerably higher than areas where abortion is generally legal, such as Western Europe (The Lancet). This means that women are being forced to have medical procedures in unlicensed practices, in unsafe environments without the care, equipment or skills needed to ensure their safety.
Nearly half of abortions worldwide are unsafe , with nearly all of these in developing countries where abortion is not legally available. So how, at a time when the world is pushing for gender parity, can a politician demand society to further stigmatise and punish women, when what is really needed is greater understanding, empathy and support. To reduce abortion rates, they should be campaigning for better safe-sex education, greater access to sexual health resources and global education around women’s rights.
Abortion continues, and will continue, to be a source of debate around the world, even in countries where it’s legal. In the US, how can a presidential candidate be unashamed to say he has the right to decide what goes on in a woman’s body – but the woman does not? Women should not be punished for wanting to be able to make a choice about their own bodies, regardless of law. Simple.