Monday, November 03, 2008

Is abortion personal or public?

This post is inspired from an article arguing against abortion in my college newspaper followed by a discussion I had with one of my labmates and friends, KC. I’m not pro-abortion or anti-abortion, but merely feel that the decision should be left to the concerned parties and not be interfered by the State and National Governments, other organizations and people.

Abortion is a very strong act, an act to the future, an act by the present. A life, that is as yet unborn, is killed for the sake of the present life that is born. Which life is more important and why?

There are a number of takes on abortion in every part of the world and in every culture. Over the years, it has been one of the most controversial topics to be discussed again and again by politicians, religious leaders, social activists and who not. I feel that abortion should be a private decision, taken only by the parents of the child to be born (with the mother having more say in the matter because it is she who has to go through the process after all is said and done). A number of people, with well known leaders among them, say that abortion should be abolished (no pun intended!) for a variety of reasons. Here are my reasons for why it should be left for the parents to decide the future of their own child.

The parents know what’s best for the kid to be born. No one in the world can love a child more than his/her own parents and so the parents, in most cases, have the right to decide how the child should be and what is best for the child in the long run. Sometimes the parents may decide that the child is better off not being born in this world rather than being born and having to suffer. One great example is the case of Nikita and Harsh Mehta who wanted to abort their child because they knew that the kid would be born with serious heart defects and has very less chances of surviving. Then, is it any wonder that the parents did not want the kid to face all misery that was awaiting it once it entered the world? Don’t they have a right to decide if their kid should face sorrow or not? I’m sure my mother would do anything to protect me from a life of known abject misery and sorrow if she can help it. And it is true for all the parents who really love their kid. Knowingly letting your kid suffer something for the good of no one is akin to not loving your kid at all. There were a number of organizations that offered to provide monetary support to the Mehta family. However, the emotional trauma has to be undergone only by the parents and the child, isn't it? Would anyone be able to share and reduce that? These are difficult questions and the answers are not light, either!

Second, imagine the pain that the parents would have undergone to come to this decision. No one would want to kill off their own offspring without strong reasons. So, if the parents are rational, they should be allowed to decide what to do in such cases.

Third, talking from the child’s perspective, imagine if you were born and knew that your parents, of all people, didn’t want you in the world? It is much better to have not been born at all. This would lead to a lot more complications related to trust and security within the child.

Finally, we talking of a woman’s life here. She has the right to decide what she wants to do, with her life and body. If she decides not to have a baby, then her decision should be respected. For she knows what is best for her body to survive. If there was a case where having the baby would endanger the mother’s life, would you jeopardize a living life to a yet unborn one? That brings us back to the fundamental question of who is more important, the living present or the yet unborn future?

In all, I feel that decision should be taken by the people concerned and not by anyone else for the far reaching consequences of the decision (for or against) are felt only by those people and not others who venture to give their opinions in this matter. Again, I’m not pro or anti abortion and feel that it is a very difficult choice that people make in circumstances. It is one of the worst circumstances that a parent faces: to kill the child you love to protect it from known misery in the name of love or because you love it and want to see it in flesh and blood and give it a chance to fight life, you let the kid be born into known and certain misery and pain. My heart goes out to all parents who make this difficult decision. But at the same time, let no other person or organization or authority decide it for them for they are alone in their misery and none of the above bodies can share it. Do share your views on it(pro or anti or middle ground or indifferent) and do tell us your reasons behind it as well.


Arun said...

Im for abolishing abortions. Because having a law that says parents love thier kids and hence know thier best is what will cause infanticide again. Most of the mother will simply be abused by thier husbands or inlaws to kill thier baby.
The particular case you brought up, I agree its better not to bear the child. I think in cases like these where the child would suffer from severe health conditions, doctors should ultimately have the right to do abortions. So maybe only doctors can do abortions on a case-by-case basis.
Its not the case that mother can decide, just because its part of her body. Going by that suicides should also be legal which Im against.

Superficial Gibbering prater said...

"So, if the parents are rational, they should be allowed to decide what to do in such cases. "

How do you decide if the parents are rational or not ?? And importantly who decides that ??

Also,if on a public forum people talk about some thing as a private affair,hasnt it already become a public affair?If you get the drift of what i am saying ..

Vivek said...

There were lots of ifs. Definitely mom has a say on the future of the kid, but not sure if that could be called as a "right"!

The rationale behind this and euthanasia are just the same. I believe, the future of the victim needs to be determined by not just one, but everyone who has utmost concern in her future.

Welcome back!

Fantasies of a Lifetime said...

I am a cat on the wall here , in the Mehta case , the court should have given her the right to choose . The court should probably not be stereotypic .However Personally, I believe abortions are wrong , depriving a fetus from witnessing the world , however good or bad it may be is quite disturbing . I would rather have the mother teach the kid to stand up for himself/herself . After all , it is a beautiful world one worth seeing against all odds. . .

Preethi said...

Like everything else this varies on perspective across people and cross sections. If you legalize abortions a fetus can be (what can only be termed as) killed as late as the last month of pregnancy. So then what do you call it? Abortion or Murder? Then again is it better to abort or bring to this world a child who is going to undergo suffering and make life miserable for both child and parents? What about all the teen pregnancies .. is it better to abort rather than let another child lose her childhood? So then what about all those unplanned pregnancies? What about all the unwanted girl pregnancies? Where do we draw the line?

vissu said...
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vissu said...

i tend to agree conditionally with you. I feel not only the mother but the father as well should be responsible for deciding on the abortion. Others talking about abolishing abortions with infanticide in mind, i wish to ask them what about the case of teen pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies. Do u think the couple who could not control their carnal pleasure be competent enough to bring the child into a safe world to live in? Is is important to bring a life in the world..or to set a stage for the child to GROW hassle free? Is is not better to end the life of a unborn who hasn't even seen wht life is than bringing the life into a world full of sly foxes and asking to live on its own? Where do u think all the street children come from? Don't u think an abortion would have prevented this? Dont the God's own deserve a better life than that?
Talking about parents being rational? What good wld it be to bring a life in to this world when you can financially, mentally and emotionally support is up bringing?
I personally feel that abolishing abortions would only add to the 'God's own'.

alpine path said...

Arun, I do agree that if this was allowed in countries like India where some women are still abused by their families, there would be a terribly skewed boy-girl ratio. However, if a society needs to be totally liberated and confident about itself, this path should be taken at some point of time. Because, the State can't keep taking decisions for individuals. People have to learn to become answerable to what they do. And about suicides, I really can't comment because I don't have an opinion on them. People committing suicides can't be stopped whether its legal or not. So, I really don't know if my having an opinion can make a difference in it.

superficial gibbering prater, true! this does lead up to questions about the measure of rationality, who sets the threshold for it, etc. But just because the nitty gritty details have to be still argued on doesn't mean that the issue itself is wrong. The details are not yet worked out, but this would make the world more responsible for its own actions. As I said earlier, individuals have to take the right and responsibility of what they do. Otherwise, we are talking of a bunch of kids in grownup setting. About the private issue becoming public, right now, there is no other go than to make it public unless you want it to go the illegal way. The main reason the Mehtas approached the court was because it was illegal to do an abortion and they wanted to get an exception legally. So is this a punishment for wanting to do things legally? This opens up a whole new set of questions. I think going public with the intention of getting a legal allowance is better than doing the same illegally. I'd love to hear more on it.

alpine path said...
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alpine path said...

vivek, vivek, this issue is replete with ifs, like a nested if statement :D simply because every situation is different and each involves too many precious lives to come with a one-solution-for-all. Mom having a say on the kid's future remains a say when the kid's life doesn't threaten her life. But it becomes a right when the question of saving her own life comes into picture. I do agree that there are mothers who would give up their lives for their kids(99% of them would do so) but all I'm arguing for is that it be decided by the mother if she wants to do so and not be thrust upon her, for she too, is first a person and then a mother, sister, daughter, etc. For all we know, the mother in question might belong to the rare 1%. A balanced society lets people decide their own life and we wouldn't want to take away the mother's right to life, right?

About euthanasia, that is a wholly new tangent to this problem because the life in question has already lived for some time in the world and knows the pains and pleasures of the world. So, they know what they are trading for. So if they or their loved ones feel that the pain they feel is too big for the pleasures of the world, then maybe euthanasia is fine. If not, euthanasia is not the way to go. In the case of abortion, the kid has no way of knowing what is good for it or not. So, it becomes the responsibility of the parents to do. The parents have the responsibility of both themselves and that of their kid. So, its all the more harder.

Thanks for the warm welcome :)

alpine path said...

fantasies of a lifetime, that was the only issue where I would consider going against abortion. The world is too good to be missed. But if the parents feel that their kid is better off not knowing it, then we others can't really say anything right? Trust me, there were certain things that my mother felt that I didn't need to know of(one of them being how to cook! Jus' kidding! :) ) till I grew up. And others really didn't interfere because they knew that my mother had my best interests at heart. And, this right should be extended to every parent, right? So, though I agree that the mother should teach her kids to stand up to the world and enjoy its pleasures, I wouldn't force it on the mother if she feels that her kid doesn't need to know it. For, after all, if I am a mother, I wouldn't want someone else telling me how I should bring up my kid, right? I'm extending the same courtesy to others, that's all.

alpine path said...

preethi, yup! there are lots of questions surrounding this issue. But, that doesn't change the fact that the people involved have the right to decide about it and not the State or anyone else. From what the doctors say, if the fetus is killed(going by your own terms) in the last month of pregnancy, there is a considerable risk to the mother dying too. If the mother is so desperate not to have the baby that she is ready to risk her own life, isn't it better to go with that rather than have the baby and have no one to care for it? And, about the teen pregnancies, unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, the people in question were the only ones related. They are the ones being affected. So, they should be the ones to decide the course of action and not some law. I'm sure that a vast majority of the incest victims who become pregnant would rather abort the baby and carry on with their lives than have the baby and have to face the fact of incest everyday of their lives. And what do they tell the baby when it grows up and asks natural questions about the father? These are difficult questions for anyone. Whether they want to go with it or not should be a personal choice and not dictated by the state.

alpine path said...

vissu, welcome aboard! True, the father is responsible and I would love that the guys have more say and more account in bringing up a kid. But pregnancy is one place where the mother gets the last word in because its finally her life that is in line. If something goes wrong in a pregnancy, the father walks away with emotional distress(it is a lot!) but the mother has to walk away with both emotional and physical distress. Since the stakes are higher for the mother, I still feel that she should have the last word in this issue. I'm not a feminist but I'm talking out of sense. A person having more stakes in an issue should have more rights to decide about it for he/she has the most to lose if it didn't work out well.

The presence of street children is due to a lot of factors, lack of legal abortion being one of them. Bringing a kid into the world and letting it suffer the fate of an orphan when you are alive is totally unacceptable. I don't mean to denigrate orphans but I feel that it is a state and people shouldn't wrongly put a kid in it(for no fault of his own) for their selfish reasons. There are kids who lose their parents and loved ones due to a blow from Fate and are pushed to that state. That can't be helped for we can't argue with Fate's doings. But knowingly putting a kid there is really bad.

Annie Chellah.T said...

I am against abortion.Unless the yet to be born is really under high risk,I don't agree.It's like killing your loved one because they're suffering.I would never do that.I wanna putforth my arguments.
1.If a mother can't love her own baby,who else will?she cannot be considered a human but an animal.what do you say?Many animals do that.
2.Legalization of abortion would spoil the morality.what do you say?

If everyone is given the right of act in this...World 'd be full of animals and no morality.

alpine path said...

Annie, I'm not saying that someone should be pro or anti-abortion through this post. All I'm saying is that the people involved should be allowed to decide it rather than others(like the law, the public, etc) doing the deciding. For example, if you are against abortion, that is fine. Apply it in your own life. But that doesn't mean that you can thrust your choice on another person, right? As much as you have a right to choose the anti-abortion side, the other person also has a right to choose pro or anti-abortion, right? That is all I'm talking about.

About your arguments for anti-abortion, they seem fine in some sense but not in others. Sometimes, letting your loved ones go might be the best course of action. A good mother knows what is best for her kid. If she decides that the world is not good for her kid to know (for eg, if a child is born in utter poverty and is sure to be tortured(as in some African countries), do you say that the mother should let the child live and undergo all the pain? Is this called love?) and decides to kill the embryo, how can someone else question it? And, morality is dependent on the heart. If a person decides to be immoral, keeping them in a castle in a lonely island wouldn't stop them(for its not just the action that determines morality, even the thoughts determine it. A person who thinks lasciviously all the time is surely not a paragon of morality even though he/she hasn't DONE anything. Don't you agree so?) If a person decides to be moral, they would remain so even in a strip joint. Legalizing/Not legalizing the abortion has nothing to do with it.

Further, everyone is given the right to act... in a way that it does not affect the society adversely. If someone wants to put an atom bomb, certainly that cannot be allowed just because a person wants to. But if a person wants to get a car of his choice, the government should not interfere in it. For after all things said and done, if we don't have the freedom, what else is life for? When there is no freedom, there can be no question of being moral or immoral, right? In a freedom-less society, we are as moral as the rules make us to be. In that case too, we are animals and not human.

Arun said...

like you say its definitely an individual who is getting affected by the law(or lack of it). and it seems natural that hence they should have say in it rather than law.

but i think legalising abortions, would be ok for matured population, but think about the majority of rural population(im talking about india, i dunno abt other countries). i only fear that it could be abused irresponsibly and lead to infanticide.

however i feel abortions should be legalised for teenagers(they should be also penalised in this case for acting irreposibly) and medical complications if it seems harmful to the child or the other.

it shouldn't be legalised for general cases like ppl suddenly deciding not to have kids(that freedom should be curbed as it can be abused if ppl are immature).

Arun said...

s/child or the other/child or the mother

alpine path said...

Arun, true! Every situation is different and grouping them all under one law is stupid. At the least, they should be grouped based on the conditions like teen pregnancies, incests, medical complications and others. This is certainly not an exhaustive list but it is better than "one size fits all" tendency that is present now. About India, I too feel that general public are not mature enough to think through all the advantages and disadvantages of something as important as abortion. And rules are necessary in such a case. But as time goes by and society becomes more mature, these rules should change.

My most important concern is that the Court knew the rational thing to do in this case but went by the rules. And that is a stupid thing right? Are rules in black and white more important than rational thought?

PS: your command for changing other to mother is freaking good ;)