As it is terribly hard for women to decide, it is even harder for a society to decide on Abortion. It is a question of ‘life’ and ‘choice.’ The issue is woven through the labyrinth of societal values, morality and faith. Through this piece, I argue that it should not be legalized, because it is an issue of child, not a choice!
Over the recent years, we have heard of heart-wrenching incidents where our women have crossed the border for back alley abortions many of which had either killed or caused grievous injuries to them. This is sad. Tremendously! This unequivocally calls for policy makers to intervene. It indeed induced our Civil Society Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and some of the senior politicians to call for the LEGALIZATION OF ABORTION. This I say is a coward step taken by our policy makers. They could have called for something profound that has far-reaching solution to this issue.
Those favouring legalization insist on the autonomy of women. Our Constitution enshrines the fundamental right to liberty and privacy. The right to liberty ensures the ability to do anything one wants to do without any arbitrary interventions. They say women can make intelligent and conscientious decisions of their lives and families. Hence, they must have the autonomy to act as per their personal convictions. The right to privacy also ensures autonomy. These two rights confer women the legitimacy to choose whether she wants to abort her pregnancy.
Simultaneously, our Constitution guarantees the most intrinsic and sacred right-a Right to Life-that cannot be pre-empted and derogated at any cost. The right to life is an inalienable right. The child within is preborn human and a distinct individual. If aborted, we are snuffing out an innocent human life. I call it a Murder! It is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. The premeditated malice to abort her pregnancy itself rules that it is a murder. Hence, abortion in the eye of law is a murder.
An individual can enjoy her rights only if such enjoyment doesn’t infringe or prejudice the rights of other. A woman enjoying her liberty to abort child actually prejudices the right to life of the unborn. Thus, abortion is not justified. Just because she is a mother doesn’t give her the legitimacy to kill her child.
Further, society has greater stake in abortion. Individual rights are secondary to public interest. If it is legalized, onslaught of feticide cannot be ruled out. Legalization gives legitimacy to abort thereby sowing violence and discord dehumanizing our society. Also, legalization would prone us to unprecedented social menaces such as sexually transmitted diseases and pre-mature pregnancies. For obvious reasons, less contraceptive measures are likely to be used. Hence, besides psychological trauma and guilt a woman who aborted her child has to live with, it has overarching adverse consequences on the society.
If we carefully scrutinize section 146 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004, abortion in Bhutan is neither ‘absolutely’ illegal nor legal. In our country, the legality of the issue is tested on a case-to-case basis. As per section 146, abortion is illegal if one aborts or induces expulsion on an embryo or fetus or prevents a child from being born alive. However, there are exceptions to this. It is legal if abortion is done in good faith in order to save the life of the mother, if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and if the mother is of unsound condition. When abortion is legalized in such cases then what more should we be asking for?
The risk in legalizing further is that people might increasingly practice it. A call to further legalize abortion is no better than a call to legalize murder. It will not remedy and forestall our women crossing the borders for backyard abortion. I am sure those who wish to keep it private will anyway resort to such practices even if it is legalized.
Instead, the kind of stereotype and the social stigma attached to the type of pregnancy that actually compels abortion is something we need to root out. How to prevent unwanted pregnancy and to help pregnant women who has got abortion as the only option are something our policy makers should be concerned of. Our women deserve better than abortion!
There is no greater sin in killing a defenseless child for which they have to withstand the worst of their parents for no fault of theirs. If mother exercises her ‘right to choose’ then who will defend the ‘right to choose’ of the child within? If there is ever one to defend that, only a mother can! The child within knows no rights. She only knows that her mother’s womb is the safest, securest and the most unassumingly assuring place to reside in.
The economic and thousand other reasons supporting legalization are not justified. Your mother has bestowed life upon you. So, contemplate honouring it and passing it down. Abortion doesn’t make you un-pregnant; it makes you the mother of the dead baby. Choose life because your mother chose YOU!