The issue of women’s right to abortion, after effectively being resolved decades ago with the worldwide consent about it, is currently returning with a vengeance. It is particularly discussed nowadays when taking into consideration that various countries are making it illegal. During 2018, women and especially youth in Ireland petitioned and protested against the abortion ban law under the slogan “Repeal the 8th amendment”. Abortion was finally made legal in Ireland in December 20181. While Ireland may be one of the countries that legalized abortion recently, other countries where abortion was already legal decided to revoke that right. An example of that is Poland2, where the government enforced a near total abortion ban. This sparked many protests not only in Poland, but in other countries in Europe. As expected the majority of the people protesting were young people and youth activists.
The reasons behind all these controversies and protests about abortion always lead to a highly debated topic, wherein there are many opinions but not enough facts. A strand of society believes that abortions should be made illegal so as not to take the life of an unborn child. These beliefs are routed in religious claims that demand and confirm that the child has free will, and are predominantly conservative. On the other hand, a major standing point of third wave feminists and young people believe that it’s the woman’s right to decide and nobody else’s. This debate derives from the belief that the church or government have the right to dictate the decisions that ideally should belong to the pregnant woman.
According to pro-life supporters, that is, those who want to illegalize abortion, it is an issue of morality and the foetus has a right to a life according to Kreitzer3. But scientifically speaking, the foetus in the first trimester, is not fully developed and has no sense of life or death as Rowlands and Wale note4. Although, it is ironic that those that condemn the death of an insentient being would happily ignore the rights of a fully functioning female active in society. The pro-choice supporters believe that this narrative enforces the idea of forced motherhood and ignores the logical idea that abortion be settled privately between the doctor and the parent. This is why the pro-choice believers support and work towards preventing unwanted pregnancies, reducing abortion, promoting contraception, educating women and youth, and ensuring that families have the necessary resources to raise healthy happy children.
Moreover, the use of the church to suppress the modern woman and take away their freedom of choice is as much a social stance as it is a power move on the governments part. Pro-life believers are strictly sold on the idea of morality that isn’t even their own, manufactured in the name of God. The idea that a child that is barely breathing and is the size of a bean is sentient enough to care about life that hasn’t even begun, should suffer in the name of God and force motherhood on a woman that didn’t want it, is ludicrous. It seems highly unfair to expect a woman to grow and go through gruesome labour for a child that wasn’t desired to begin with. Hence, it seems only acceptable that the women control the abortion rights since they happen to be giving up an enough already as Markowitz5 says.
It is important to recognize the privilege bestowed upon men and the oppression that women have to go through to get even the most basic of choices and realize that it’s not an individual problem but a systematic issue that a lot of women have to go through. The autonomy that would have come easily to men should they have been able to carry a child is not extended to women because of the pre-existing idea that woman are less than and could not have anything to do other than have children, no matter in what situation said child was conceived is a violation of everything the woman’s movement stands for. The government and the church shouldn’t intersect to facilitate each other’s agenda and thirst for power. If a woman’s body that is said to be sacred is treated like property that exists without any autonomy of its own then where does that leave the world. What happens in one’s life is not the business of the state and it should stay that way.
3 Kreitzer, R. (2015). Politics and Morality in State Abortion Policy. State Politics & Policy Quarterly,15(1), 41-66. Retrieved December 1, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24643821.
4 Rowlands, S., & Wale, J. (2020). A Constructivist Vision of the First-Trimester Abortion Experience. Health and Human Rights,22(1), 237-250. doi:10.2307/26923489.
5 Markowitz, S. (1990). Abortion and Feminism. Social Theory and Practice,16(1), 1-17. Retrieved December 1, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23557071.