Sunday, 30 June 2013

Abortion In Ireland

The ‘Right or Wrong’

It would seem that Ireland is going to be brought, with some citizens kicking and screaming, into a pro-choice world. So far the main proponents of the debate are those with liberal attitudes and agendas and those who, for the most part, are right wing, conservative and religious. Unfortunately, as is often the case when debates start to gain public recognition, there is rarely a discourse for people who may believe or at least question elements from each argument.
                We live in an era of scientific knowledge and beliefs that refute various religious ideas. This has seen a profound number of people stray from their local parish in the past twenty or so years. The Catholic church, for its part, has remained an archaic institute which refuses to change as social attitudes and customs do. It has fallen from an immensely powerful structure in society to something that has become relic like. While this seems true for many religious institutions the Catholic church is alone in the fact that it has been publicly disgraced for its transgressions again and again. Many people have turned away from the institution primarily for this reason while for others the community of church and belief is important and they recognize that it wasn’t ‘their’ priest who was involved. It has become obvious through recent inquiries and media attention that the upper echelons do not act with the interests of community at the forefront rather interests of appearance but the fact remains that religion can be a source of warmth and healing to people. Many others would argue that they are spiritual to some extent or believe in something transcendent though what they couldn’t tell you. The truth is that there is no way to prove or disprove any of these ideas and the act of endeavouring to do so often causes more damage than good.
                A growing number of societies and governments have decided that a foetus’ life cannot be called a human life and in doing so have paved a way for abortion. There is no point getting into the idea of a human spirit or soul being housed in a foetus or at what moment it becomes active. I can’t know this, neither can you. But one thing we can accept is that a foetus has the potential for human life. A foetus can grow from child to adult and live their lives whatever way they deem fit. To create life is a legal responsibility and those found guilty of neglecting their children face legal ramifications. As a society we have accepted that once the baby has been delivered it has the same rights and legal standing as any other citizen. We have not decided to which point this legal right extends before birth. I have no statistics on what point a brain develops but the fact that the potential for these things exists should bring a bigger argument than it’s a woman’s body, a woman’s choice. From a humanitarian point of view abortion would be unethical should we extend the same rights of a foetus to a child. Where then does this stand when we consider that a foetus is the potential for a child? And then of course darker arguments begin to spring up: what about cases of incest or rape, mental or physical illness or death? We can say that a foetus has the potential for life but also it has the potential to cause a devastating effect on life that already exists. Also there will always be cases where abortion is used flippantly. I would never argue that people would knowingly use it as a source of contraception, that argument seems shallow. However I do believe it relieves people of a certain amount of responsibility that they should have, but then the reality is that these people will probably make far better parents when they are ready, whether than is together or apart. There is also the argument that abortions cause people to experience depression. This is probably due to stigma and the fact that an abortion itself is a traumatic experience rather than evidence of anything inherently evil about it.
                Should abortion be made legal? I myself would not want my partner, sex buddy or one night stand to get one. I believe that the potential for a child is an important thing and without knowing if a foetus has some kind of cosmic or otherworldly energy I couldn’t stand by a decision to abort one. But that’s me and I don’t have the right to extend my sensibilities and ideologies to anyone else. Just because I believe in something does not make it real. I believed in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, I even believed in the Abrahamic God I grew up with. The reality is that abortion should be legal for those that feel they need it for whatever reason that may be. Anyone who believes a foetus has a soul will not get one anyway. Whether this is right or wrong is a purely subjective matter. But if abortion does become law, we as a society, must stress that an individual be responsible. We must give them all the ideas, all the beliefs and all the mental and physical factors that go into getting an abortion. I’m sure many more people regret having abortions than children, and we should have a detailed list of the various coping mechanisms available to pregnant mothers. Above all else we must approach this with compassion for the person involved and not judgement. For most people the decision to get an abortion cannot be easy and times may well be tough in the preceding months that one has been completed.
                The abortion argument should not be about who is right and who is wrong. It should be about compassion for people regardless of which side of the line they stand on and a recognition that no matter what your beliefs are they don’t transcend the experience of being human. If you were brought up Catholic put yourself in the shoes of a young woman who isn’t. If you’re not spiritual or religious consider the possibility that the foetus may be more than growing cells or at the very least consider that it holds the possibility for life. When you have considered all these things and the various other ideas and arguments not expressed here make your decision but you must have the integrity and responsibility to consider these things. Once you do there is no one on either line of the argument that can convincingly say you were wrong.


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