Local Chapter President, AIESEC Kyambogo

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When is it right for a girl to have an abortion?

Most African people frown upon the very thought of abortion, but sometimes it is the only viable option. I recently heard a story from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide about a young woman of 20 who was reaped by a gang of 5 Hutu militia men. They forced her family to watch and then forced her to watch as they executed all her 7 family. Her baby brother of 2 was killed with multiple blows to the head with a crude wooden club. She conceived.....a handsome young man of 18 lives alone with his Mum. They keep to themselves mostly because the family of the boy is not known and that of the mother cant stand the boy. Now they judge her silently, no words just indifference and some form of malevolence, at every family gathering the two attend. The mother sometimes cries silently and hates God for prolonging her nightmare of persecution..sometimes she wonders if she is being punished for being stubborn. No man will marry her, so she has reconciled herself to living alone. Shut away from society and without the comfort of family..she has only her dear son who reminds her of so much pain she weeps all the time. The boy fears to ask his mother why he causes her so much pain..

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    Jan 21 2012: I believe that the answer depends on who is to make the decision.
    Personally, I am a pro-life, so basically against abortion. Therefor I understand that a women in a particular situation chooses to abort according to the hardness that may follow her decision. The main problem in making this kind of decision is the social environment to which we belong. The case of this particular women is very sad, but the problem is not "God", but the human nature. We lack so much compassion, we make life a hell for others. On the other side, one should work today in a way to understand the value of his own life and get a clear high estim of himself. This woman's decision has been one of the hardest a woman could take. And in the consequences, our society has a share; for whoever feeling concerned, and make a connection with this woman, it will be a good thing to support her; I have eard about NGOs working in the feald in these areas where there's been war. Even in the ivorycoast, after the war here, we've had a couple of seminaries on the subject, and some women organisation are trying to consolate and assist women victims of rape.
    My conclusion is that abortion's decision is only to the person who bare the pregnancy for cases of "by nature forced pregnancy". But regarding the battle of people fighting to get the right to abort as of whenever they want, I would just say that the moment you are pregnant, it is a "human being that you are holding in. So it's always better we put more discipline in our sexual life and take the necessary precaution as we are having sex, because beyond the pleasure, there are life at stake, and it's certainly not yours.
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    Jan 25 2012: Terrible situation you describe. Pity no access to morning after pill.

    Tricky subject. Rights of the fetus versus rights of mother.
    In a perfect world they wouldn't be necessary.
    But we have medical, health, disability, mutations drivers. Rape drivers. And family planning.

    Last one is verging on immoral if woman is not forced into unsafe sex. Perhaps there should be a fine for abortion in wealthy countries for "family planning' reasons. Just irresponsible if in the heat of the moment.

    Sometimes I wonder how is killing a fetus that much different from killing an animal with the same awareness and ability to suffer.
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      Jan 25 2012: So you're vegan?
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        Jan 26 2012: No, and not vegetarian. Thinking about it but honestly mostly in denial about animal suffering for our food.

        I don't think pointing out we tend to under value animal life is completely hypocritical because I eat meat but it would be a stronger position if didn't. I'm not suggesting we increase abortion and all stop eating animals.

        We probably undervalue human life too and are in denial about that, especially as it gets more distant from people we identify with most closely. No one really needs to starve these days but they still do. There is untold human misery we could improve. It's just not a priority. The animals don't even have a voice.

        Suggest human rights and animal rights have probably improved in parallel in some places more than others. They don't have to have mutually exclusive.
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      Jan 25 2012: I wonder how is killing a fetus that much different from killing an animal with the same awareness and ability to suffer. Are you kidding?
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        Jan 26 2012: No, not kidding just suggesting there may be a double standard here.

        Not supporting killing babies or fetuses or other animals

        Why do people think it is worse, aborting a the bundle of cells of a human fetus a few days old , with no nerves, compared to killing an adult dog or a dolphin?

        Suggest our various levels of indifference to animal suffering reflects our economic conditions, culture (including some religious beliefs (not Jains)). Historically human life was a struggle and still is in poorer or war torn places. Suggest the rich West has the luxury and perhaps the responsibility of considering reducing animal suffering, more than someone starving.

        Part of this human centric view may be because we evolved to feel warm fuzzies and protective of children, including others in our tribal group. Perhaps the selfish gene concept.

        We tend to make judgement about the value of life of different animals. Most don't worry about killing a fly but would think twice about a cat.

        Suggest there is a continuum. Some animals have more awareness, ability to suffer physical and emotional pain than others.

        Plant< shellfish
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          Jan 26 2012: By birth we are omnivores.Have you ever raised your voice that chiken shouldnt have insects . then why we cant have chiken ? As per the rule of eco system we can have? isnt it?If

          "Suggest the rich West has the luxury and perhaps the responsibility of considering reducing animal suffering, more than someone starving. "

          you think its important that a animal should be cared before animal.??

          And for me abortion is also not a sin. And so our legislation thinks .
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        Jan 27 2012: Are you suggesting chickens should be held to the same standards as humans if they want us to consider their suffering.?

        Personally I hold humans to a higher standard than chickens. We have greater reason and culture not just slaves to instinct. I thought humans had started to move past law of the jungle.

        I do not think an animal should be cared for more than a human. We can do both.

        Perhaps it wasn't clear but I meant someone struggling to find or pay for food should not be held to the same standard as someone relatively rich with many options. I think many people living in USA, Australia etc living today could survive just fine eating much less animal meat.

        We have evolved as omnivores. We are also able to hunt, kill, rape just like other animals. But we have a choice. We don't have to be slaves to our primal instincts.

        You seem unable to explore even the slightest empathy for animals. Caring more for our fellow animals doesn't devalue human life. It actually lifts humans up further.

        You seem awfully upset by the suggestion that perhaps the suffering of animals should be considered once we move past the law of the jungle. Do you feel you have a god given right to eat meat. You can stick with bronze age and medieval values if you want. Wonder if there is such a word as Speciest.
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      Jan 26 2012: QUOTE: "Tricky subject. Rights of the fetus versus rights of mother."

      It's not really "tricky" until we ask ourselves who bestows these things we call "rights" ... then it does get "tricky."

      Many religious folk believe God bestows rights and, for reasons that escape me, they also assume it is the believer's responsibility to force these "rights" upon people who do not share their faith. You have the right to obey our God. You do not have the right to make up your own mind.

      "It is God's will," they say, to people who do not believe in God or who do not believe in their God.

      Personally, I do not support abortion but, then, I will never have to choose to have one or not.

      When is it "right" for you to eat food, drink water, receive medical care, or refuse it? Assuming no mental impairment ... it is always "your right." It is your body.

      When is it right for a girl to have an abortion? Whenever she wants. It is her body.

      Personally, I would never think it right to have an abortion ... never. But I do not think it is my right to impose my will on others. If a woman, close to me, chose to have an abortion I would support and honour her. And I would, if necessary, protect her from those who might attempt to force their values upon her.
      • Jan 26 2012: Thank you very much for this insightful response. You have for me put it in such a way that I appreciate the rationale behind your argument while intergrating the concept of diversity in the world. Culture is a great dictator but from this perspective we can draw clear lines on personal rights and responsibilities. You have helped me understand my first reaction to this story when I heard it, culturally we abhor abortion so I am nutured to resent it but then again I will never get pregnant or raped , so I cant ever understand what it is really like.This means I cant impose my rights on any one who feels different.
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        Jan 27 2012: Good points. I actually don't like the word "rights". I'm not a religious believer so think these so called rights are human constructs and reflect a particular society and time. I do think that there are values such as equality, free speech, life, liberty etc that improve the human experience.

        In many situations these value/rights may conflict. Free speech versus Slander.
        Freedom of religion versus equality
        None is absolute. Our views seem to have evolved - mostly for the better.
        I respect the qualities of religion that have improve society/values from my 21st century secular paradigm - Love thy neighbour, help the poor etc - although we don't need religion to reach these conclusions. I abhor the aspects of religion that lock in negative positions with absolute authority from a particular god as per scriptures, prophets, popes etc. It sounds like we have some agreement here.

        Abortion is one area that these value consideration are complex. Also many different reasons for abortion. Generally a women's body is her business. But babies grow and are part of a women's body.

        The reasons for abortion range from the very selfish to others I empathise with.
        At one extreme, if a late term pregnancy is going to kill the mother to save the baby or kill the baby to save the mother - I respect the mothers choice either way.
        If some one is aborting because they were lost in the moment, that's a pretty weak rationale.
        And every situation in between.

        Then there are the practical harm minimisation considerations.

        Perhaps we agree that the ideal would be a world where there were no unwanted pregnancies or medical concerns. I think we also agree that making abortion illegal is undesirable.
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          Jan 27 2012: Hey G M,

          There may be unwanted pregnancies. I would prefer there be no unwanted children.

          My personal preference is that all children who are conceived be born (exceptional circumstances notwithstanding.)

          And we are in agreement, I do not support making abortion illegal.
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        Jan 27 2012: When is it "right" for you to eat food, drink water, receive medical care, or refuse it? Assuming no mental impairment ... it is always "your right." It is your body. Well said

        pregnancies can be an accident. But a birth shouldn't be an accident . Think of the baby after taking birth he/she sees ,ok i am unwanted here . How would be his whole life?
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      Jan 27 2012: "perhaps the suffering of animals should be considered once we move past the law of the jungle"-- We dont shoot a dog in the road but being non-vegetarian is our (human) rights.

      "Do you feel you have a god given right to eat meat." -- I dont know what god thinks . But ya I have right to be non-vegetarian .

      "I think many people living in USA, Australia etc living today could survive just fine eating much less animal meat. '-- Ya they can.. But they wont. And if any time they become like this . Advancement of civilization will be hindered. Because the motivation to achieve a better life wont be there.

      "You can stick with bronze age and medieval values"-- But as per I know more advance civilization is more non-vegetarian . Its not Africa, It US & Europe who have maximum non-vegan. So as per you as civilization advances they go back to bronze age.
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        Jan 28 2012: What is a right? How did you come to believe in the rights you accept. What is your moral philosophical rationale behind the so called right to eat meat.

        I suggest they are human constructs and not infallible, universal, timeless or absolute.
        Views on these so called rights seem to have evolved over time and differ regionally, even between people in the same street.
        Do you accept not everyone thinks eating meeting is a right?

        Sure, meat eating is the current societal norm in most places.
        We have the power and legal "right" to eat animals killed for our consumption.
        This doesn't make meat eating philosophically the most moral position.
        I'd be interested to hear your rationale why eating meat should be considered a natural right.

        To me it seems a reasonable proposition when meat is essential to our survival and nutrition. Less so in places that have escaped the law of the jungle

        I also accept the biological drive for high calorie food. Increased meat eating when our predecessors left the trees may have given us the energy for brain development. We evolved as meat eaters. We also evolved as killers of our own species fighting for resources. Sometimes it may be worth considering rising above some aspects of our basic nature. We also have a drive to have sex with everyone we are attracted too and seem to manage these urges with differing degrees of success but there is little wholesale rape, except perhaps in war situations etc.

        Good point that rich countries probably consume more meat because they can afford to.
        USA can afford the most powerful military, and they may think they have the right to invade any country they want, but that doesn't make it automatically ''right''.

        Perhaps one day eating meat will no longer be considered a right or the norm, just like slavery, animal cruelty, male domination, wife beating, child beating, monarchies etc in some societies.

        I'm happy for it to be a personal choice. But think it worth questioning the norms sometimes
  • Jan 20 2012: When is it "right"?

    I believe it is the parent's choice - so if they don't feel well equipped to bring a child into the world, then an abortion is a viable option.