Let’s talk about abortion.
This is an issue that almost always ruffles some feathers. I am intrigued by arguments for and against legislating to support abortion anywhere in the world intrigue me.
The first pro-life claim is that “unborn babies are human beings from the moment of conception therefore they have a fundamental right to life which ought to be protected”. That seems almost irrefutable, right?
But remember what they say about the first guy to speak in court. Their opposition argues that personhood begins at birth, not at conception which makes abortion the “termination of a pregnancy, not a baby”, and personhood at conception is not a proven biological fact.
Yet to their credit, the “pro-lifers” produce a decent comeback with the claim that the differences between the embryos and adults are differences of degree not of kind.
The pillars of this argument are made up of the proposition that “embryo” and “foetus” do not refer to non-humans but to humans at particular stages of development. Even then, opposition would still demand biological proof which is why this is such an interesting debate.
There is also the argument from those who support abortion that even if abortion is outlawed there are still women in their thousands who will abort, either from doctors or coat hangers in back alleys and those cause 68 000 maternal deaths each year in countries where abortion is not legal.
The figures to support their position show that modern abortion procedures are safe. The risk of a woman’s death from abortion is less than one in 100 000 whereas the risk of a woman dying from giving birth is 13.3 deaths per 100 000 pregnancies in the US and one out of 32 in Lesotho.
Pro-life advocates find that there are three problems with this position.
First, it doesn’t address the ethics of abortion.
Second, laws against abortion would deter most women from having one.
Third, there is no evidence that illegal abortions are more dangerous than legal ones.
To a large extent, pro-life fans still argue on the principle basis that it’s still morally ridiculous to legalise “procedures that kill innocent babies just to make killing procedures less dangerous to the mother”. You see that’s the thing about abortion debates, no argument is truly watertight.
When the debate reaches boiling point you know there will always be one or two or three or even four people, not that the number matters, who are always more than willing to throw in the religious ideology in the mix which will kill the debate if you’re not interested in arguing against God as we so often are.
It’s only ever “sensitive” to make the argument that religious doctrine should not be a foundation for law in a country which tackles the anti-abortion position that is usually underpinned by religious beliefs and threatens the vital separation of church and state.
J Stuart Mill’s On Liberty is one book that had the most impact on my way of thinking until I read The Capitalist Nigger but that’s a topic for a new day.
Mill’s emphasis is on individuality and liberty for as long as there is no harm to society and I am an ardent believer in that principle.
In Lesotho there are quite a few “back-alley” practitioners of abortion and I know you know somebody who knows where to find them.
If you’re in touch with a reasonable dose of reality, you know women cross the border to South Africa’s border towns to abort while plenty still secretly do it in the country.
You see I am one of those who support the hypothesis that legal or illegal, many women will always choose to abort when push comes to shove.
Some characters will say this is all hogwash and that the responsibility of the state should be to protect people from their bad choices but I say the responsibility of the state should also be to provide the best possible environment for women who exercise their fundamental rights in order to prevent the loss of lives that result from unsafe abortions.
I am not suggesting that the state must encourage abortions.
No. By all means, it must be seen to be discouraging it at the same time we have to be realistic.
It’s such a shame when a young girl dies because she had “stomach cramps” and nobody is held accountable for that loss of life. I think in this day and age where the world has achieved so much going forward, there is everything in place for a government like ours to take that next step.
lMosito recently graduated from NUL