Thursday, 29 December 2011

To keep, to give up, or to get rid of?

This morning, a very lovely lady I have the pleasure of knowing posted on Facebook a quote, and later a scanned image, of an article featured on one of the local newspapers.  It emerged that this article was based on an British health agency's study.  Same article can also be found on Yahoo! News.

To bring you up-to-date on the situation locally, Abortion is not legal over here.  However, anyone wishing to abort only has to jump on a catamaran or a plane and pay for it in one of our neighbouring countries.  They will not be turned away, since their money is as good as others'.

"Are you pro-life or pro-choice?" you might be thinking.  The truth? I am pro-using-your-own-brains-to-make-the-most-suitable-decision-whilst-assessing-things-on-a-case-to-case-basis.  Simply put, I will not object to someone undergoing abortion, but neither will I recommend it.  If keeping the child, or giving him/her up for adoption, is a more feasible choice, then to me, that person should choose one of these other two options.  If on the other hand, neither keeping, nor giving up the child, is a feasible solution, then so be it.  Abortion will be the lesser of all evils in that scenario.

The one reason I do not call myself pro-choice, in truth, is because I would not wish Abortion as an experience upon my worst enemy.  Yes, medically, there is no mental health risk linked to it.  There is, however, heartbreak, guilt, and a generic feeling of violation.  As if someone has ripped your very essence out of you.  It is like an extremely amplified combination of mourning the death of a loved one, and having your heart broken by the love of your life.  Needless to say, it is a big deal.  One that you will have to carry with you for the rest of your life.

Different countries have different regulations indicating until when an abortion can be conducted.  Whilst discussing the topic with a French friend of mine who lived for about 3 years in the UK, she explained to me one of the oddest things ever.  The law in the UK makes it legal to have an abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy so long as certain criteria are me, though in special circumstances, it is legal to have an abortion until later on. The Abortion Act 1967 covers the UK mainland (England, Scotland and Wales) but not Northern Ireland. The law states that:
  • abortions must be carried out in a hospital or a specialised licensed clinic
  • two doctors must agree that an abortion would cause less damage to a woman's physical or mental health than continuing with the pregnancy 
The law states that an abortion is legal after 24 weeks:
  • if it is necessary to save the woman's life
  • to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman 
  • if there is substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. 
Here is what perplexed me - Premature babies, born as early as 23-24 weeks, can be revived should the parents express the wish to attempt a resuscitation, after discussing it extensively with their doctor.  Premature babies born from 25 weeks onwards are resuscitated without the parent[s] needing to request for it.

Basically, the lines blur across one another.  There is a time through the pregnancy where one can decide to abort - but if there is preterm labour, once the child is here, the doctors would be obliged to try and save his/her life.

So yeah. Personally, I think that the very latest that abortion should be carried out is within the first 12 weeks.  Basically, as long as it is still referred to as an embryo, not a foetus, then I find no moral objection.

On the subject of men and their being opinionated about the whole thing - I mean this in the most loving of ways - You guys will never ever have to deal with this experience in the same way as your ladies might have to.  At the end of the day, it is her decision, not yours.

Before you jump at my throat saying I'm being too harsh - let me attempt to rephrase that.

Under no circumstances do I see it fitting for a man to tell his pregnant partner that she should abort, unless she expresses the justified feelings herself.  She will be the one to have to deal with its consequences - not you.  If you are able of finding an alternative to abortion, please do let your lady know about it.  Discovering you're pregnant is quite a traumatising thing - even when planned.  So be supportive.    At the end of the day though, if she is still of the opinion that she should abort, then it is up to her.  I'm sorry you will have to deal with a decision you do not agree with, but that is what you would need to do 0 deal with it.

I know, you probably are still hating me.  There is no sugar-coated way I can put it to make it sound less harsh, so just think it over.  I tend to be rather blunt in my words, so struggle to put something nicely when I don't really see the need to.

One more thing I wanted to point out is - the morning-after pill is not available in Malta either.  Should the Powers That Be decide to legalise it and introduce it in Malta, I would say to price it at some ridiculous price which is still affordable - Let's say, 10 or 20 euros.  That will ensure that it will not be used as a contraceptive but rather as a remedy for an emergency situation.  Condoms break, and rape happens.  Having friends who work, or have worked in pharmacies, tell me about the number of Language School students [i.e. foreigners coming over to Malta to learn English, usually during summer] they have to break the news about the morning after pill not being available and see their life crumble away, has enforced my opinion that it should be introduced.  After all, these students would have been able to obtain the pill were they back home.  Instead, they now will have to face a possible unwanted pregnancy and all the consequences related to it.

To conclude - no one can ever really be pro-life, nor pro-choice, unless they have to face the situation themselves.  I have known pro-lifers opt for an abortion, and pro-choicers choosing to keep the baby.  Finding out you're pregnant is the one thing that will bring things into perspective - and just because you chose to, or not to, abort once, does not mean you will make the same choice again in the future.

1 comment:

  1. There is a rather interesting read in a news mag I recently bought about abortions in the US- it honestly made me cry. I wouldn't link it to upset you in any way, but can try and find it for a general read if you're interested. It was about a certain case in the US about one lady who, not realizing how far along she was, took the morning after pill. That story itself is not the most distressing thing (although incredibly traumatizing for the lady, her experience, but mainly, the disgusting way she was treated), but it also outlines some other laws and information about abortion in the USA. I do believe, after reading it, I could never be anything but pro-choice (that the woman has the right to seek medical advice and make the choice herself). I know it will always be a controversial topic- the debate on abortion, but honestly, it is not our decision to sit in judgement of one another when it comes to such a life altering move.