Pro Choice vs Pro Life

2013-08-21 09:25

This is a topic which will urge many conservatives to pull out the big guns and verbally blast any logical and scientific reasoning which may contradict their beliefs. I once had a woman tell me that she would pray for God to inflict cancer upon my uterus.  How charming.

After publishing my article on National Women's Day I received a rather interesting response to my mention of abortion:

"I think that abortion on demand should be discouraged though. The laws as they stand seem fine and accommodating."

Although he was polite in voicing his opinion, I found his assumption to be a little short-sighted, as it failed to acknowledge countries where abortion is as good as banned, where necessary, late-trimester abortions are so hard to come by, and where birth control is an extra expense for women who so often earn less for doing the same amount of work as men.

Let's say we do come across a woman who is perhaps irresponsible. What is worse, a child born to a negligent woman, or a woman free of an inconvenience? I would choose the latter every time, because truly I am not one to interfere with another person's body.

(And to those of you who believe that abortion is interfering with the body of a little life who is capable of feeling pain, I urge you to think again. Studies have shown that the brain connections required to feel pain are not formed within a fetus until at least 24 weeks of gestation.)

Not to mention there are so many other factors which come into play here, such as the lack of affordable or reliable contraceptives, medical facilities which are unable to cater to the large amount of women requesting first and second-trimester abortions, adolescent ignorance or victimization, and of course the people who so actively oppose the procedure.

Basically I feel that very little importance is being placed into general healthcare in South Africa and many parts of the world, but today I will tackle the issue of women's, reproductive health specifically.

Despite South Africa's, somewhat, progressive stance on abortion, it is often difficult for women of little means to obtain safe and legal abortions in time. Not to mention that the number of facilities which provide the procedure at an affordable rate are a mere drop in the bucket compared to the demand.

A research article on The Nation describes what the waiting room looks like in a Hillbrow, first-trimester, abortion clinic. It paints a bleak picture about the circumstances of these women and the hell they must go through trying to legally obtain an abortion:

"If national patterns are any clue, some of those women arrived here too late. The law sets the cut-off for first-?trimester abortions at twelve weeks. Many women don’t realize they’re pregnant until eight or nine weeks go by, and the first appointment they’re offered may put them in the thirteenth or fourteenth week. At that point, they need to seek out a second-trimester facility.

For that, many Hillbrow patients turn to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. The hospital sees 3,000 women a year and turns two-thirds of them away, usually because they’re too far along in their pregnancy (the cut-off for second-trimester procedures is twenty weeks). Norma Bustard, nurse manager at Johannesburg Academic, says that women routinely tell her staff they have waited days at different clinics, across the span of their pregnancies. "

This is just one of many examples where the medical system in South Africa falls short in assisting women with their needs.

What is disturbing about this is that women in their desperation often resort to seeking assistance from illegal,  back-alley practitioners.

"Though illegal abortions are safer now than they were in what some healthcare workers bluntly call “the coat-hanger years,” they’re still anything but foolproof. In March, a woman attending the University of Johannesburg died in her student hostel, a death that police attributed to an illegal abortion. Nearly 25 percent of maternal deaths, according to the latest national inquiry into maternal health, are caused by conditions that specialists say correlate with an illegal abortion. "

Of course we may also credit this problem to the deprivation of  sexual education for teenagers across the country. The world bank has found that less then half of sexually active teenagers in South Africa report using condoms, and nearly 20 percent forego using contraception altogether.

An abortion is never a pleasant experience, and if teenage girls were to use contraceptives from the moment they become sexually active or a couple of years after hitting puberty, they would have roughly a 99% chance of avoiding abortion entirely. Unfortunately many parents and teachers still maintain traditional mindsets, that the mere mention of contraceptives causes an uproar.

Christian schools such as Gateway college provide little or no sex education to their students. My own sister and brother who attend this school are stunned by the way teachers refer to sex as "dirty", and only to be practised for the sole purpose of reproduction. As a result, many of their classmates seek sexual guidance from various porn sites - hardly a responsible student-aid if you ask me.

Sian Ferguson, in a post on Women24, provides her own insightful take on sex education in South Africa. Sadly her experiences are not far from what I and many others have been obligated to participate in as compliant students who were surely too young to question authority, and too menacing to be afforded the right to a proper education concerning our bodily functions.

What these institutions fail to realize is that informing young women about the availability of contraception is necessary and at times even vital, especially in cases where a girl is raped. It's a shame how such conservative values can often infiltrate family dynamics and educational facilities, causing a great cloud to fall over critical judgement.

And let's not forget the loony, pro-life activists who are zealous, intimidating, and at times even violent in their fight to demolish the reproduction rights of women. These same people believe that birth control is "the devil's pill", and by promoting abstinence and making contraceptives more difficult to obtain, only succeed in enforcing sexual irresponsibility.

South African, pro-lifers are perhaps not quite as bat-shit crazy as those in the United States. However it has recently been brought to my attention that an institution known as Heartbeat international is one of several, American-based groups which have helped to establish 100, crisis, pregnancy centers throughout the country.  

Great, nice to see these lunatics enthusiastically spreading their harassment tactics throughout the globe. Just one more thing to get my blood pressure soaring to dangerous heights.

I read a chilling article yesterday addressing the issue of modern, anti-abortion activism. There have been numerous acts of violence and cruelty performed by American, anti-abortion activists over the years. If the following examples provide any inclination as to what pro-life activism in South Africa could potentially look like, then I am nothing short of horrified.

In 1988, both Cheryl Sullenger  and her husband pled guilty to conspiring to blow up the  Alavarado abortion clinic with a gasoline bomb. The couple were members of a  fundamentalist Bible Missionary Fellowship in Santee, California. After serving two years in US Federal prison she relocated to Kansas where she continues to be a pro-life activist -using an array of appalling methods which so popularly fit the profile.

In 2009 Dr. George Tiller (a physician from Wichita, Kansas, who was known for being one of the few doctors to perform late-term abortions in the United States) was assassinated by pro-life activist, Scott Roeder. A paper containing Cheryl Sullenger's name and number was found in the get-away car he used after his attack. Hmm, plotting away again Cheryl?

In a telephone call from prison Roeder confessed to the press that he had indeed shot and killed Dr. Tiller. He also stated that he felt no remorse for his actions.

I find it funny that Scott Roeder - a man diagnosed with schizophrenia who had been denied access to his own child on account of his behavioural problems- would even attempt to fight for "unborn children". Gee, as if we don't have enough children being exposed to adult crimes as it is.

In June 2012 one of George Tiller's former colleagues, Ann Kristina Neuhaus had her license taken away from her after providing the second opinion for 11 late-term abortions in Kansas. She was charged nearly $93,000 by the state for proceedings, which included the testimony of the state's expert witness (flown all the way from Washington DC)  that was made against her.

the complainant in Neuhaus's case was none other then convicted felon Cheryl Sullenger. How her complaint could even be taken into account by a court of law is astounding.

The cases to which Neuhaus offered consultation are both tragic and extremely upsetting.  The Huffington Post reports:

"The records contain few identifying details about the females, but in one case, Neuhaus describes a 10-year-old girl who was raped by her uncle as “tiny” and physically incapable of being able to have a baby. Another girl was drugged and then raped by multiple men who videotaped their crime."

All I can say to this is, "so much for the fucking sanctity of life!"

Why is the world allowing this to happen?

Why must abortion providers fear for their lives and wear bullet-proof vests every day to work? Why must women be shamed and harassed for what is already an extremely difficult decision?

Why are convicted felons allowed to hold any credibility in a court of law? Why are these criminals allowed to militantly attack those who are an asset to society? Why are these individuals not cautioned or punished for the instigation of violence against humanity - in its complete form?

Why is it that women and men of science are able to have their practician licenses stripped away from them, but doctors can refuse to perform abortions based on their religious beliefs?

In my opinion, the doctor who refuses to aid a woman who is dying and miscarrying due to  the notion that "children are a gift from God", should be banished from his post. If you can't stomach science and are potentially putting patients in danger as a result, don't practice. Simple.

The kicker in all of this is that the same people who shout loudly for fetal justice, are the last people to offer any sort of concrete solution to overpopulation, high unemployment rates, starvation, and any other crisis which stems from irresponsible breeding.

It's infuriating how fully-formed, human beings - women in particular-, who should have the first say as to what must be done with their own bodies, are so often the last people to be taken into account in matters of reproduction. Instead they must abide by laws which have been dictated to them by people who are totally unrelated to their affairs.

Oh, and this bullshit that human life begins at conception is absolute rubbish! If such a belief were true then we may as well persecute all the men who let millions of sperm fall carelessly into the toilet! 

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