Ending abortion

In my last two articles, I talked about the intrinsic evil of abortion and why there seems to be a constant push from western countries for the acceptance of this vice in Africa.

Lest I fall into the much-loathed error of “complaining without offering a solution,” of which many who advance a similar opinion as mine stand, justly or unjustly, ever accused by those of a contrary opinion, I will outline in this article my views on what needs to be done to end this malaise.

I hope it is clear to the reader by the end that since this is an opinion, it cannot cover all the concerns (genuine and otherwise) which always surround this topic, and so cannot hope to provide more than a general framework. Individual cases should always be dealt with individually.

From the outset, it must be noted that, though abortion is packaged as solution to certain problems, it has never been a solution to any. The closest it gets to being one is by being a symptom of the problem. A symptom of a society that can no longer assure its daughters of their self-worth and rears them to find this in the empty rhetoric of tactless men; a symptom of a society running out of young men for whom honour ranks above instant gratification; a symptom of a world so overtaken by hedonism that it unwilling to admit that it is; a symptom of a society that cannot assure its people of dignified existences, and abandons them when responsibilities overtake them.

It is for this reason that those who propose abortion as a solution to all the problems of the world — listening to a pro-abortion activist, one would think they had found the philosopher’s stone — not only widely, but also fatally, miss the point. For in touting a symptom of a problem as its solution, they end up exacerbating the problem, such that the symptom itself ends up being a problem.

This is borne out by the fact that despite having almost unlimited access to abortion in western countries, no one is the better for it. All gains have been made despite it, not because of abortion. Symptoms are meant to help in the diagnosis of illnesses, not to be misconstrued and remodelled as the elixir.

So, what to do about it?

One could safely wager that a woman seeking an abortion does not do it out of love. Love, of whatever kind, is not destructive. In almost all cases, the desire for an abortion comes from fear. Fear of being judged. Fear of rejection. Fear of being saddled with responsibilities for which they are not ready.

Fear of being overtaken and left behind by their peers in the heedless race into which modernity has thrust all of us. It is a fear that begins to gnaw the moment the woman gets the first tell-tale signs of a new life developing in her womb. The existence of this fear is not in doubt, even by those who approve of abortion.

But why would a woman, whose femininity can be expressed by few things better than by that spectacular capacity to bring forth new life, fear that having a child would have all these negative consequences in her life? Because society tells her so.

Society, with values flipped upside-down, judges, rejects and abandons her, condemning her for indulging in the vices into which the same society constantly eggs her, which is a first-class paradox. The woman, thus rendered insecure, finds little comfort in the counter-argument, which should indict society more than her. So, she resorts to the slaughterhouse of innocents into which the society now self-righteously directs her.

It is this destructive fear that needs to be addressed if any gains are to be made in the battle against abortion. Here, pro-abortion advocates would be quick to opine that providing contraceptives or otherwise sterilising women would achieve the desired effect (Marie Stopes was of a similar opinion).

But this argument is baseless. Contraceptives do not affirm the dignity of women; contraceptives make them less risky as sex objects, but retain their stature as sex objects nevertheless. Moreover, they don’t work all the time, and they have countless side-effects. No, the solution must go deeper than that.

To advance to a solution, a change of perception is called for. First, from seeing children as a danger to seeing in them a blessing to society, no matter the manner of their conception or the preparedness of their mothers.

Second, to seeing women who have contracted accidental pregnancies not as unrestrained harlots but as dignified daughters of the human family, and therefore deserving of love and not condemnation, advice and not recrimination, affirmation and not being pushed to violate their feminine nature.

Each person is a full package, and none can fully understand the struggles through which another goes. Judging other people will always constitute a grave injustice.

From here, one can advance to providing the infrastructure that would enable poor women to take care of themselves and their families without resorting to risky sexual activity to provide for themselves. It is also the task of everyone to strengthen public morals so that our young women and men do not feel compelled to toy with their sexuality by giving in to base desires without understanding the meaning of commitment and real love.

They need to be made to understand that the right place for sex is in marriage, where its natural consequences (children and a strong man-woman bond) can be best dealt with. If these aspects are well taken care of, a huge chunk of the market for abortion would be effectively liquidated.

But even in cases where human weakness (for in the end it boils down to this) gets the better of anyone, the tendency to prescribe abortion as the cleanest and quickest solution needs to be rethought. The long-term negative psychological and physical effects of abortion, regardless of how clinically surgical the actual procedure may have been, can be affirmed not only through unadulterated common sense, but also from the findings of countless studies.

A woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant needs to be provided with all the means necessary to carry that pregnancy to term and take care of the resulting child, even if this means giving them up for adoption. Therefore, policy should pave this route so that it is the easier one to take.

In the end, though, the scourge of abortion will not be eradicated unless demand for it completely disappears. And demand for it will not disappear unless everyone decides to live a moral life. Given the multiplicity of values held by people around the world, the experience of history, and the fallen nature of man, a situation where this is the case can only remain a noble dream.

Nevertheless, there is plenty that can be done to make it easier for women to choose life for their children. If this is done there is little doubt that carrying pregnancies to term will remain the norm, as it has always been and should always be.

This is the third, and last, article in this series. Click here and here for the first and second pieces, respectively.

Feature image: Big Think.

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