“It is unthinkable to allow complete strangers, whether individually or collectively as state legislators or others in government, to make such personal decisions for someone else’’ (Weddington, 2021).
Time and time again legislators, governments, and constitutional tribunal courts decide and debate on what women are and are not allowed to do with their bodies. Time and Time again, women’s rights are debated. And ironically people still do not see why feminism and the fight for equal rights are such crucial fights.
In the past couple of years, the debate surrounding the topic of abortion has been ongoing and growing. Whether that can be seen by people protesting outside of planned parenthood buildings in America or countries implementing near-total abortion bans. The question that tends to rise in my mind is; Why? Why is there always a debate on what women can and cannot do with their bodies? Especially if it in no way, shape or form will negatively or positively affect anyone who chooses to express their criticism. Cause quite frankly, whether someone decides to have a kid or not, a mere stranger will and should never be a factor. The debates surrounding this topic should be on why people decide to make certain decisions for themselves and not as to why someone should decide to appease a non-factor in the matter. “Until the state or the church takes full responsibility for a newborn, no bill or Bible is qualified to even offer suggestions on a woman's right to abortion’’ (Naskar, 2021). Unfortunately, this mindset is not shared with others who hold a significant amount of power in certain countries. This is quite odd as countries have been in a race with one another to become more innovative and advanced and all in all just progress in every aspect. However, it seems as though progression is only looked upon fondly in regards to innovation (aspects that do not involve humans). The innovating advancements of industries, technology, and data. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to the want and fight for equal rights. Time and time again is the want and fight for equal rights met with such dismay and unnecessary debates. An example of this double standard is a debate that ensues when women want to exercise their fundamental rights by having or advocating for the right to an abortion. It does not matter what the exact subject is, women are always met with heavy criticism when they want to express their right to make decisions in regards to their own body. However, the debates, unfortunately, have resulted in certain countries implementing policies that oppose the right to abortion. The arguments these governments continuously push forth are; wanting to preserve traditional family laws/values, political views, saving children, and adhering to religion but most importantly they want to impose their standards of life on others no matter the consequences. It is quite ironic that these individuals view abortion as the wrong thing to do rather than forcing a woman to have an unwanted pregnancy. The only question I have regarding this aspect is who benefits from this? There are no positive consequences on a social, political, or economical aspect. So again, who does this benefit? The people who protest against the right of an abortion will not be positively impacted by this at all nor raise the child themselves. So again, why is their opinion valid? Despite, the discrepancies, these abortion bans continue to be implemented. The negative consequences resulting from banning abortions have been studied by the Center for Reproductive rights. According to the Center for Reproductive rights; There are 970 million women, accounting for 59% of women of childbearing age, living in countries where abortion is widely permitted. Although most women live in countries where they can exercise their right to abortion, 41% of women live under restrictive laws. The lack of access to legal and safe abortion services affects 700 million women of childbearing age. According to the World Health Organization, 23,000 women die from unsafe abortions every year, and tens of thousands suffer from serious health complications (CRR. 2019). ‘’Legal restrictions on abortion will not reduce the number of abortions but will force women to risk their lives and health to seek unsafe abortion services’’(CRR, 2019). An example of this can be seen in the recent near-total abortion ban that took place in Poland. The policies on abortion in Poland have been strict since 1993, as abortion was only allowed to take place due to three reasons; fetal abnormalities, the mothers’ health, and if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. In October of 2020, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal Court deemed an abortion on the grounds of fetal abnormalities unconstitutional. Therefore, they ruled that abortion on the grounds of fetal abnormalities should no longer be legal. The irony of it is that the prime minister and the Constitutional Tribunal Court voted on this matter by surpassing the parliament and forsaking their constitution. Not only did the Polish prime minister break their parliament regulations and constitution, as a result, he also breached the European Union rule of law principle.
The hypocrisy seems to kick in here as they view abortions on the grounds of fetal abnormalities as unconstitutional but not their own actions. Women in Poland are resorting to flying abroad to have an abortion, ordering medication online to give themselves miscarriages or have illegal abortions. As a result, several organizations such as the Abortion Support Network and Women Help Women provide these women with funding to have an abortion abroad or mail them proper and safe medication with which they can have an abortion at home. The number of women who have been in touch with these organizations varies from 83.000 up to 100.000. The measure these women have to take to access their fundamental rights is atrocious. The question that remains is;
“Is having a child fundamentally bettering the world as a whole in any way? There is no shortage of children. Wouldn’t it be better to let people who want children have them and leave everyone else alone?’’ (Minimum, 2021)
Additionally, would it also not be fundamentally bettering the world if the lives of the children are thought of as well? And I do not mean only when the fetus/child still needs to be born. I mean when the child is alive and living in an orphanage. There are children all over the world that are parentless whom certain individuals choose not to adopt as they would like to have their own because of the sake of their bloodline. The life of a child and any other individuals is of importance, however, using this argument to coerce people into not having an abortion is not beneficial to anyone. These arguments also do not pertain to the other parties involved. The priority of family values does not go as far as setting the same obligation on men, whilst responsibility lies with both parties involved.
Unfortunately, there are more consequences to the criminalization of abortions. As they are far graver to society than legalizing abortion is. There are several consequences attached to these bans; the legal status of abortion does not merely indicate that women and girls are legally allowed to decide whether to become pregnant or not. It also reveals the possibility of women dying from unsafe abortions, whether girls can complete their studies, and the limited ability of women and girls to participate in public and political life. In short, tracking the legal status of abortion shows us where women and girls are treated equally and have the opportunity to dominate their lives (CRR, 2019).
The question that continues to flare up is; Why? Why is it women’s bodies that are continuously policed? Why are no other crucial alternatives discussed? The alternatives could be sexual health education, awareness, and the cruciality of contraception. However, in countries such as Poland, these subjects are banned from the education system. I would assume if they want to ban abortion they would also want to decrease the need for one. However, the laws that are implemented banning abortion and the actions that are taken by the Polish government suggest prevention is not of importance. That leaves me to wonder what on earth their main goal is?
By Amaal Ali