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Birth rights of sperms & eggs
The debate on abortion has moved away from the empowerment of women to cutting religious propaganda

30 Oct-12 Nov ‘09 issue

Of course, all this is not happening for the first time. Since time immemorial, a woman’s body has been the theoretical and unembellished territory for societal and political war. From the theoretical, scientific and religious end, there are numerous logical stages that define the starting point where ‘human life’ begins. Many schools of thoughts believe that sperms & eggs have life; and put them at par with humans, thus considering them as preconceived life. Many don’t! But almost all blocks ranging from political to religious are in some or the other form discussing the issue of abortion – or as the critics call it, immoral killing of a life. And that is where the whole debate on abortion starts, with opposing philosophies promoted by two schools of thought: Pro-choice campaigners (who demand a mother be allowed to choose whichever of the three options she might wish to undertake), as opposed by pro-life campaigners (who generally argue in terms of foetal rights rather than reproductive rights). The concepts of pro-life versus pro-choice are in general visible across the world, leading to starkly distanced abortion laws across the world – for example, if in Canada abortion is available ‘on demand’, then in a country like Nicaragua, abortions are illegal.

Since the last few decades, as per reports published by Guttmacher Institute, most of the decline in abortion rates occurred in countries where abortion had long been legal. Contemporarily, the highest rates of abortion have shifted to developing countries, which often have restrictive abortion laws. In countries like Thailand and Iran, after abortion restrictions were eased around 1997, unsafe abortions have slipped from 15 to 14 per 1,000 women, a big drop when seen demographically, given the fact that around 70,000 women die each year from unsafe abortions.
In the US, almost half of all pregnancies are unintended and thus four in ten of these end in abortions. The Bush administration had placed a ban on federal funding for international family planning programs that provide abortion information to clients. Obama, within a week of being sworn in, lifted the Bush administration’s ban. Obama further passed an executive order officially scrapping the Mexico City Policy (that ‘protected’ – or rather, restricted – taxpayers from involvement in overseas abortions for eight years).

Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Spain, Mexico, all are nations where abortion is illegal (after a few weeks of conception; like in India) but the governments are not able to control or deliberately overlook the illegal abortions (Mexico has over 900,000 illegal abortions every year). And this point is where religious groups, especially the Catholic communities, are lobbying very hard to stop abortions globally. In general, a majority of Catholic Christians are considered to be pro-life. While Barack is now giving millions of dollars to groups that aggressively promote the pro-choice concept, he has been highly condemned by the Vatican along with pro-life leaders on this move. In the Dominican Republic, after the Dominican Catholic Church lobbied, the present laws ban abortion in all circumstances, even in cases of rape; in fact, even when the mother’s life is in danger. Abortion is banned in Catholic heavy Ireland, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. In Spain, though abortion is illegal, with the passage of gay rights the ban was expected to be removed. However, the Catholic Church has launched campaigns to prevent the reform from being passed. It’s clear that the issue of abortion can never escape the bloodying conflict between the political and religious spheres. The politician who attempts to go against the existing religious paradigm could well end up losing a huge base of voters – Obama knew that and still won.

But then, is abortion right or wrong? That, we truly believe, is for a nation and its people to decide. If the democratically elected legislature of a country – which promotes equal women’s rights – believes abortions should be allowed or banned, in whatever form or reason, then be that as it may! Unfortunately, not only is the majority of most legislative assemblies almost always made up of men, these nations also suffer what we now know as the Roe Effect, which says that pro-choice parents have generally ended up having more abortions and hence fewer children over decades than the pro-life population; thus support for legal abortions has declined over time, and will decline further in the future. That, sadly, might be the way of things to be in the future...

By:- Sray Agarwal

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