Should Abortion Be Legal At Any Age
There is an international trend towards the liberalization of abortion laws propelled by women’s rights, public health, and human rights proponents. This tendency reveals the acknowledgment of women’s access to legal abortion services as a subject of women’s rights and autonomy and a comprehension of the serious public health repercussions of forbidding abortion. Recent studies indicate that the legal structure in 68 nations worldwide forbids abortion completely or allows it only to save a mother’s life. On the contrary, 60 countries permit a woman any age to decide whether to end a pregnancy. Moreover, 57 nations permit abortion at any age to protect the mother’s life and health, and other 14 allow abortion at any age for socioeconomic reasons. The numbers show that averagely, 39% of the people in the world live in countries with restrictive laws governing abortion (Finer and Fine 1). However, legal approaches of creating obstacles that inhibit access to legal abortion services, for instance, mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling requirements, and the open practice of conscientious objection, is developing as a reaction to this trend. These obstructions stigmatize and degrade women, and put their health at risk. Abortion should be legalized for women at all ages to protect their lives, their health, and for socioeconomic reasons.
The condition that young girls aged below 18 years should seek permission from parents before conducting an abortion differs by state. Certain states demand parental approval for women below 18 years with exclusions for rape, incest or disregard. The process normally entails the engagement of one parent, though a few states necessitate parental consent of the two parents. Other states developed parental consent regulations on the books that are presently not being implemented. Lastly, many states lack parental consent prerequisites. Doctors normally choose on whether to inform parents of an arranged abortion (Finer and Fine 1).
The Termination of Pregnancy (CTOP) Act approved in 1996, permits abortion for women aged 18 years and above upon request up to and including 12 weeks of gestational age, under certain conditions between 13 and 20 weeks of gestation, and under limited situations after 20 weeks. The Act proposes non-obligatory and nondirective pre-and post-abortion counseling to be offered, including the obligatory provision of information to women requesting abortion services to guide them in making informed decisions. However, for women below 18 years, their parents are informed and allowed to decide for them. In the United States, a woman aged 18 and above can seek abortion within the first 12 weeks of gestation, and up to 22 weeks of gestation (Chong et al. 343). Women who decide to end their pregnancies do so because of not being financially able to support a child and do not require more children.
Laws that inhibit abortion result in increased number of women’s deaths that emanate from the unsafe process. Women that are determined to terminate a pregnancy do so even when the law does not allow it. They resort to doing it secretly under dangerous circumstances that harm their lives. Research indicates that before the legalization of abortion in the United States, millions of deaths resulting from illegal abortion were reported. Therefore, legal abortion safeguards all women’s health and lives since chances of complications emanating from the process are low as they are always under medical care from health professionals. The World Health Organizations (WHO) proof indicates that when faced with an unplanned pregnancy and regardless of legal settings, women aged 18 years and above are highly likely to have an induced abortion (Finer and Fine 2). The minor ones, however, rely on their parents’ decision. Legal constraints that limit the basis on which a woman may end a pregnancy increases the percentage of unlawful and unsafe procedures (Finer and Fine 2). The maternal mortality ratio per 100, 000 live births as a result of unsafe abortion is usually higher in nations with great restrictions and lower in those where abortion is allowed without constraints. The public health impact of unsafe abortion is directly associated with its legal status.
Legal abortion for women at all ages saves the mother’s life in cases where pregnancy complication is detected, and both the lives of the mother and the fetus are at risk. Doctors recommend saving the life of the woman by aborting the pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy, whereby the fetus grows outside the womb, is a dangerous condition, which in most cases results in abortion. Doctors normally assess the situation to determine whether other risks are involved. Such a woman is likely to experience health challenges throughout her pregnancy period, which may also endanger her life. Therefore, legal abortion at any age can be conducted to protect the woman’s life (Finer and Fine 1).
Life-threatening diseases that do not permit the baby to live outside the womb characterize some pregnancies in women at all ages. Therefore, doctors try their best to terminate the pregnancy at an early stage. There is no sense of keeping the pregnancy of a fetus that dies it is delivered immediately, because it cannot survive outside the womb. Such pregnancy also exposes the woman to several health complications (Finer and Fine 1).
Fetal impairment is another condition that leads to abortion of the fetus when detected earlier regardless of the woman’s age. The risks involved in such a pregnancy are many and put both the lives of the woman and the child at risk. Also, incest, which is a pregnancy between two members of the same blood, is considered a curse and the child is killed before it is born in all women (Finer and Fine 1). Many traditional societies kill such a child once it is born because it is believed to be a bad omen. Thus, legal abortion is carried out for women at all ages to solve the issue.
Moreover, victims of rape sometimes terminate their pregnancies because of the trauma they experience. The pregnancy reminds them of the distressing moments they went through when they were raped, which inhibits their healing process. Also, some of the victims are raped by more than one person, and so they are not able to determine the father of the child. They opt for abortion as a way of helping them cope with the situation. Legal abortion is justified for a woman at any age in such a case where the rape victim requires safe abortion that is carried out by health professionals.
Teenagers who get pregnant while still in school and are not able to take care of a baby opt for legal abortions to enable them to handle their difficult situations. They seek medical abortion through their parents to enable them to proceed with their education until the time they are financially and physically mature to bring up children. Also, the older women aged 50 years and above and still in reproductive age resort to legal abortion when they realize that they are pregnant. The pregnancy could be a failure of a contraceptive.
The studies carried out before the declaration of the CTOP Act by the Medical Research Council (MRC) discovered that 425 women at all ages died every year in South Africa because of unsafe abortion. The aim of the CTOP Act was to enhance women’s health and stop unnecessary deaths. A repeat study that was performed in 2000 by the MRC revealed that there had been a decrease in maternal mortality (91%) and maternal morbidity (50%) because of the implementation of the CTOP Act (Trueman and Magwentshu 397).
On the other hand, various reasons have been given as to why abortion should not be legalized at any age because every person has a right to life and life starts at conception. Approaches of limiting abortion access majorly concentrate on developing procedural barriers using law or policy that limit the availability of abortion services. The obstacles include mandatory and biased counseling requirements, waiting periods, third-party agreement as well as notification requirements, constraints on the range of abortion alternatives and restrictions on abortion funding (Finer and Fine 2). Procedural barriers involved in some countries like the United States of America delay care and impede access to safe services, which degrade women as poor decision-makers and increase health risks.
Religion and culture do not support legalization of abortion at any age because it is against societal expectations. Regarding culture, reports on generational issues outline the experiences of loss of control. Legal abortion is done in public at any age, hence, permitting young individuals to behave in a manner that contrary to the older generation, for example, being immoral, unplanned pregnancies, arguing with parents, and not being responsible. The idea of rights, which is based on the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act is considered to prevent parents from controlling their children, thus, disempowering parents (Macleod et al. 243).
Culture is used for fighting abortion at any age, and the repercussions of the cultural restriction against abortion include individual stigma, familial stigma, fear of accessing service, breach of African Christian beliefs, quilt, and association with witchcraft and emotional difficulties. Culture is employed as a resource to constrain access to abortion through the interpretation of both the real act of abortion, as murder, and of the repercussions (Macleod et al. 243).
Legalizing abortion at any age is regarded as the destruction of culture, values, as well as the nation (2, 240). Culturally, abortion at any age is considered as murder, and it opposes cultural values, which emphasize on protecting lives. The comparison of abortion as a form of murder and culture as the protector of life indicate that the fight against abortion is necessary for the preservation of cultural values and the nation (Macleod et al. 240).
Abortion at any age contravenes the feminine principles of fertility and the certainty of motherhood (Macleod et al. 242). Opposition to abortion for all women is also grounded on worries about the breakdown of gendered and generational power relations. For example, a married woman of any age who aborts her husband’s child is perceived to have committed adultery, hence, does not want to keep the child. Moreover, couples of any age who involve in abortion are not able to prevent their children from doing the same when they find themselves in a similar situation. Culturally, the men who realize that their wives have committed an abortion tend to hate them. These examples show how the capability of a woman to interrupt the feminine ideals through legal abortion positions her as untrustworthy or blemished. Abortion is perceived as a sign of infidelity and destruction of a marriage relationship. Thus, the white weddings that signify virginity, as well as the intactness of conjugal rights, are no longer applicable. Abortion also leads to promiscuity, as a couple who ends a pregnancy underrates the significance of marriage and becomes deceitful (Macleod et al. 242).
Proof from Nepal, where the review of the nation’s legal policy in 2002 permitted women aged 18 and above the right to end a pregnancy up to 12 weeks without constraint as to the reason and later on a certain basis, insinuates that liberalization has led to a decline in problems emanating from unsafe abortion. After the liberalization of Romania’s abortion law in 1989, maternal death considerably reduced. Moreover, in the United States, in the period after the Roe v.Wade decision, maternal death signiﬁcantly declined as a result of the decrease in unsafe abortions. This reveals the public health impact of the adoption of Roe v. Wade’s. The case acknowledges the commencement of the third trimester as the standard for practicality, that is, the ability of a fetus to live outside its mother’s womb with sound care as well as legal defense of fetal interests (Finer and Fine 3).
The latest effort to dispute the CTOP Act was in 2010 in South Africa, immediately before the World Cup, through a procedure known as the Private Members Portfolio. The African Christian Democratic Party tried to add more regulations to the CTOP Act meant to make counseling, pre-abortion ultrasound (observing the ultrasound by the woman before the abortion), and a waiting time to review the decision of whether abortion is necessary. The African Christian Democratic Party proposal referred to numerous kinds of research that proved the association of abortion at any age with breast cancer and perceived post-abortion trauma that cause long-term depression. Such approaches are in line with international attempts to define abortion as being harmful to all women’s health (Trueman and Magwentshu 397).
Abortion should not be legal at any age because the process, which terminates life, has become a modern lifestyle among many people. Several individuals engage in unprotected sex and regard abortion as an alternative in case they become pregnant. This thought is similar to planned murder, which terminates an innocent life because of being irresponsible. Other people also consider abortion to be a form of contraception, which is wrong. Individuals should seek advice from health centers concerning different types of contraceptives and their effectiveness rather than opting for abortion, which ends innocent life (Chong et al. 344).
Abortion by a woman of any age not only ends the life of a child but also has health-related issues, such as sterility and premature babies. A woman who commits abortion at any age can suffer from its consequences if it is not conducted by health practitioners. Unsafe termination of pregnancy might lead to infertility, especially if the uterus is destroyed. Frequent abortions might also lead to premature babies because the uterus is used to carrying the fetus up to a certain age. It becomes difficult for tie uterus to carry the pregnancy to term. Such effects can be avoided through restriction of abortion at any age.
Excessive legal constraints affect the public health negatively. However, there is no proof of an association between restrictions on access to abortion at any age and high birth rates. Women aged 18 and above who are determined to terminate their pregnancies will do everything to accomplish it regardless of whether it is lawful or not. High restriction of abortion services forces women to procure dangerous abortions, which endanger their health and lives. Such constraints also stigmatize women attempting to abort and discriminate against those who do not understand legal bases for abortion and susceptible groups, for example, the less privileged as well as rural women and girls. The United Nations distinct rapporteur on the right to health characterizes the criminalization of abortion as conflicting with the right to the maximum possible standard of health. Research reveals that required waiting periods compromise women’s health by postponing care and women’s capacity to access safe as well as legal abortion services. Waiting periods also make many women postpone the process until the second trimester of pregnancy, when the risk of complications is high. Likewise, the dynamic nature of influenced counseling that offers medically inaccurate information can cause women to make decisions that threaten their physical as well as mental health. These limitations humiliate and stigmatize women. Therefore, abortion should be legalized for women at any age.
Chong, Erica, et al. “Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice of Abortion among Women and Doctors in Armenia.” European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care 14.5(2009), pp. 340-348.
Finer, Louise and Johanna B. Fine. “Abortion Law around the World: Progress and Pushback.” American Journal of Public Health 103.4(2013), pp. 585-589.
Macleod, Catriona, et al. “Culture as a Discursive Resource Opposing Legal Abortion.” Critical Public Health 21.2(2011), pp. 237-245.
Trueman, Karen A., and Makgoale Magwentshu. “Abortion in a Progressive Legal Environment: The Need for Vigilance in Protecting and Promoting Access to Safe Abortion Services in South Africa.” American Journal of Public Health 103.3 (2013): 397-399.