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Simply put, abortion is the termination of pregnancy, either voluntarily or involuntarily. But behind this cold and brief definition there is much more to be analyzed, from the context in which it happens, to its reasons, if there is danger to the mother or the fetus, or if it is a personal and conscious decision of the woman who undergoes the procedure.
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Abortion has always been a controversial issue and a matter of debate between pro-life, those who are against its legalization, and pro-choice, those who seek decriminalization in countries where the legal system is against. Another reason why the discussion is heated is the religious component that devotees bring to the table, invalidating the personal convictions of those who do not believe in their own doctrine and who seek respect for their ideas and positions. What abortion shows is the impossibility of maintaining an open and respectful dialogue, because for both parties the position of the other is inadequate, and finding themselves in an impossible midpoint.
Despite the difficulties, a kind of midpoint has been achieved in some countries where abortion is legal under some specific circumstances, and only in those cases. For those who are in favor of abortion this step is insufficient, because it flatly eliminates the possibility of the woman to choose whether or not to carry out a pregnancy that cannot be interrupted because it does not meet the requirements of the state (disease for the fetus or the mother, rape).
For those who are against it, it is still an inconceivable concession, since regardless of the conditions of pregnancy, the mother or the fetus, a pregnancy is sought to end regardless of the consequences.
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The pro-choice argument most used to defend the practice of abortion is that which states that the woman has the absolute right to dispose of her body.
The freedom of each person is inviolable and therefore, if the woman does not wish to have a child even if she is already pregnant, the state should guarantee that right and provide the necessary care to carry out the abortion. It is necessary to think only in the case of a mother of three children who is head of household, and who does not have how to financially support a room; or the woman who becomes pregnant in an abusive and violent relationship and who does not want to bring the world to a child who grows up in the same circumstances; or who is too young to face the challenges of motherhood and does not have the economic infrastructure or emotional support to become a mother. All the previous cases are valid. But they are not for the law of many countries.
On the other hand, we must see the social conditions of a given country in a global way and not in the specific case of each woman. Developing countries where there are billions of people trapped in cycles of poverty and ignorance are also the most favorable environments for unwanted pregnancies. In those same countries there are more privileged classes where women have health services and economic infrastructure to carry out a pregnancy; But these are isolated cases.
We must seek global well-being, and think about solving the needs of the poorest, not satisfying the richest and most influential. Abortions performed in illegal clinics and clandestine hospitals are the ones that cause the most deaths among women of childbearing age; allowing abortion would be, respecting the freedom of each woman to dispose of her body, and providing society with a respectful health system that puts women’s welfare as a priority.
Another argument of those who are pro-choice supporters of abortion speaks of the fact that the fertilized embryo, in the first stage of pregnancy, still does not constitute a human being, but a set of cells and therefore, when deciding to terminate the pregnancy, in reality it is not ending the life of a person. Here the conversation acquires ontological levels because it is debated when life begins and when a human being becomes such.
Some countries allow abortion before 12 weeks gestation and other countries allow it until more advanced.
On the other side of the coin, those who are against abortion, in English called pro-life, point out that the principle of life is more important than the right of women to dispose of their body, since it is about protecting the life of a helpless being. We return to the discussion of when the fetus is a human being, but above all to put on the table that women’s rights are in the hands of the state.
On the other hand, we must ask ourselves why women’s rights, especially this very intimate and relevant one, are in the hands of the state. Do men have to ask permission to make free use of their body? When has a man been seen demanding the state to undergo a vasectomy? Is it not, to some extent, a life-threatening procedure? The standards with which the needs of men and women are treated are different, and morally elusive.
To take a position on abortion, first of all, inform yourself. Abortion will continue to be an issue that will always generate confrontations between society, since it will create a division between its detractors and its defenders. But we must also think about whether we are not too much in history to have to put the private life of women, their options, their preferences and their dreams under the magnifying lens. Lawmakers have no right to decide what women want to do about a pregnancy, because every potential child that comes into the world brings back the consequences of their parents’ choices.
If a mother considers that she does not want to bring the world to a child for whatever reasons, one must listen to her and give her the opportunity for this painful and emotional process to take place in a respectful environment where she feels her voice counts. Likewise, we must listen to the mother who, despite medical diagnoses, wants to carry out a pregnancy that is considered risky. The key point of the discussion in this essay is to finally give a voice to women.
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