For every choice in life, there is a decision and consequences to follow. Society should embrace the idea that abortion is a woman’s choice and that they have weighed both the costs and benefits and know what is best for them and the life they are bringing forth. Over the years, the issue of abortion has been a controversial matter that has evoked divergent views and opinions worldwide. The practice involves prematurely ending a pregnancy by removing a fetus from the uterus (NIH). Although abortion remains prohibited in many countries worldwide, its access has become more obtainable today, with a global drift pointing at liberalization. Hence, more and more people are continuing to embrace the idea that criminalizing it is doing more harm than good to the affected individuals. Societies should decriminalize abortion because it denies women the right to have autonomy over their bodies. They should be permitted to decide whether to keep the unborn child or end the pregnancy. Again, banning it does not prevent women from having abortions. Instead, they opt for unsafe procedures to avoid legal liability and social stigma, which has led to severe consequences such as health complications and deaths. Women should be allowed to have an abortion since criminalizing it results in increased unsafe abortions, and the practice also violates the fundamental human rights of women and girls.
First, legalizing abortion will reduce the number of unsafe abortions. When women want to postpone childbearing but do not use contraceptives, unintended pregnancies occur. These incidences may emanate from rape and nonconsensual sex. A significant percentage of women who get unplanned pregnancies opt to keep the babies, resulting in unwanted births. Others terminate them through induced abortions that are often carried by people who lack the relevant medical skills or in a setting that does not adhere to acceptable health standards. Unsafe abortions remain among the primary causes of maternal deaths, even though most are preventable (Frederico et al. 329). The deaths emanate from severe bleeding, infections, obstructed labor, and blood pressure disorders. These mortalities may be evaded or reduced by ensuring that the affected individual seeks safe abortion practices conducted using the appropriate method and by a health expert. Enacting strict abortion laws has been one factor that has increased the mortalities emanating from unsafe abortions. The reason is that most are reluctant to seek these services from a medical professional for fear of facing legal consequences.
Legalizing abortion or imposing less restrictive laws may be an ideal way to address the problem. Otherwise, desperate women, mainly from low-income countries who encounter financial constraints and social stigma linked to unplanned pregnancies, will always opt to terminate the unborn children through the back door, believing they do not have another choice. Hence, the practice severely threatens their health and life, primarily when performed by a non-specialist. Nations that permit abortion record fewer deaths and complications than countries that illegalize or put more restrictions (Allotey et al. 505). Thus, it is evident that criminalizing abortion does not prevent women from terminating their pregnancies but increases the rate of unsafe ones. Legalizing the practice may be indispensable in reducing these cases and the associated maternal deaths.
Second, banning abortion does not deter women from having abortions. Most women who have unplanned pregnancies opt for abortion. The reason they make such risky and tough decisions vary from one individual to the other. While sometimes the conclusions may be based on medical grounds, such as when the life of the mother, the baby, or both are in danger, the reasons are usually complicated in most cases. Various countries have set policies and regulations that specify when to end a pregnancy legally. However, one must consult a doctor to ensure they are eligible for the procedure and meet the legal requirements. As mentioned earlier, abortion becomes legally and socially acceptable when the mother or the child’s health is at risk or the pregnant woman has a risk for mental conditions or other medical issues.
Unfortunately, only a few cases are health-related and intend to protect the mother’s health due to various medical complications. This scenario implies that a significant percentage of women who end pregnancies decide based on other factors rather than health reasons. For example, one may choose to seek abortion services since they believe that they have enough children and cannot accommodate another. Others may not be prepared to care for a child or carry pregnancies, especially those resulting from sexual assaults such as rape or incest. Thus, despite abortion law indicating that the practice is illegal, many women with unwanted pregnancies choose to abort secretly. Most maternal deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries than the developed nations (Mohamed et al. 1). The high rate of abortion indicates that criminalizing it has a minimal effect on women’s decision to procure one. Besides, most abortion laws focus on protecting the unborn child, which policymakers can attain by implementing alternative regulations that may help prevent unplanned pregnancies from happening in the first place.
Finally, legalizing abortion will protect women’s bodily autonomy. The freedom to make choices about oneself and develop potential is one of the fundamental human rights. These principles focus on ensuring equality and fairness for everyone, irrespective of gender, race, age, or other socioeconomic factors. Like any other human, women can choose what they want. Carrying pregnancy is a tough decision affecting their lives (Brauer et al. 1084). Hence, they should be allowed to decide whether to keep it since the pregnancy is a personal affair that impacts them directly and involves their bodies. Therefore, the idea of restricting them from having the freedom to choose what they want with their lives is right away incomprehensible. Again, some of these unwanted pregnancies happen in challenging circumstances such as rape and incest and forcing such a woman to keep the baby may severely affect the innocent child and the mother.
The feeling of a pregnant woman wishing things to be reversible can be highly distressing. Knowing that one is bringing forth life and are not prepared for it can be disheartening for both the mother and the baby. Hence, allowing women autonomy over their bodies would be more appropriate. Ending a pregnancy and waiting for the proper time when they are prepared emotionally, psychologically, and physically will eliminate many problems evident today, such as babies being given up for adoption, abandoned, or mistreated, which causes more suffering to innocent souls. Women should have the right to decide what they want because things may escalate and worsen if the law forces them to keep a child they are not ready for or do not want.
Opponents of decriminalizing abortion suggest that it may lead to a higher maternal death rate rather than reducing it. A significant portion of women dies from pregnancy-related complications yearly in the US (Collier and Molina 561). These incidences may happen during the pregnancy when trying to induce abortion, at delivery, or even during the postpartum period. The world has witnessed a sharp increase in maternal death for the past few years, accompanied by significant racial and ethnic disparities. In other words, the etiology of this increase includes healthcare disparities, inadequate social and family support, depression, suicide, patient non-compliance, and associated chronic diseases. Therefore, allowing women to have bodily autonomy in deciding whether to keep or terminate pregnancies will make them most lenient in adopting measures that can help them prevent pregnancies, such as using contraceptives or abstaining. The scenario implies that there will be higher rates, especially of unintended pregnancies, which heightens the risk of maternal deaths during abortion or when one decides to keep the baby. However, the high number of maternal mortalities is due to restricting women from accessing legal and safe abortions (Marmion and Skop 302). Since prohibiting the practice has had no effect in preventing women from getting pregnant or inducing abortions, decriminalizing will enable them to seek safe procedures if the incidences happen. Preventing women from accessing abortion does not make them need the services any less. Instead, the practices add another barrier to safe reproductive healthcare, which has contributed to the increased number of maternal deaths globally.
Overall, it is evident that abortion affects a woman’s health and social life more than it impacts society. Hence, abortion should be treated as a personal choice made by an individual who has both the benefits and costs of keeping a pregnancy or terminating it. Although having a child is among the noblest things in the world, deciding to seek abortion is often accompanied by tough decisions. Many factors make women choose this path, including having unplanned pregnancies from incest and other sexual coercion and assault. These incidences make one get pregnant when unprepared for a child physically, mentally, and emotionally. Illegalizing abortion instills fear in women and limits their freedom, making most opt for unsafe abortions to avoid stigmatization and legal consequences. Besides, the ban has not been effective in preventing abortions. Instead, it heightens the risks of undergoing unsafe procedures, which have caused many maternal deaths and other health issues. Hence, the decisions concerning ending a pregnancy should be perceived as a woman’s social right since the ban infringes on their fundamental human right to choose what they want with their body. Legalizing abortion will significantly reduce the health risks associated with unsafe abortions. Instead of illegalizing abortion, societies should embrace intervention measures encouraging women to avoid unplanned pregnancies that make most opt for illegal abortions. These strategies may include but are not limited to educating women on the need for contraceptives to plan their families and making them readily available to low-income women.
Allotey, Pascale, et al. “Trends in Abortion Policies in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.” Annual Review of Public Health, vol. 42, no. 1, 2021, pp. 505-518, doi:10.1146/annurev-publhealth-082619-102442.
Brauer, Marieke, et al. “Understanding Decision-Making and Decision Difficulty in Women with an Unintended Pregnancy in the Netherlands.” Qualitative Health Research, vol. 29, no. 8, 2018, pp. 1084-1095, doi:10.1177/1049732318810435.
Collier, Ai-ris Y., and Rose L. Molina. “Maternal Mortality in the United States: Updates on Trends, Causes, and Solutions.” Neo Reviews, vol. 20, no. 10, 2019, pp. 561-574, doi:10.1542/neo.20-10-e561.
Frederico, Mónica, et al. “Factors Influencing Abortion Decision-Making Processes among Young Women.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 15, no. 2, 2018, p. 329, doi:10.3390/ijerph15020329.
Marmion, Patrick J., and Ingrid Skop. “Induced Abortion and the Increased Risk of Maternal Mortality.” The Linacre Quarterly, vol. 87, no. 3, 2020, pp. 302-310, doi:10.1177/0024363920922687.
Mohamed, Shukri F., et al. “The Estimated Incidence of Induced Abortion in Kenya: A Cross-Sectional Study.” BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, vol. 15, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-10, doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0621-1.
NIH. “Abortion.” MedlinePlus – Health Information from the National Library of Medicine, 2022, medlineplus.gov/abortion.html.