02 Aug Abortion: An Easy Way Out?
A common critique on abortion is the belief that it is an “easy way out.” Some would even compare the existence of the procedure as a “reset” button, like in video games when things don’t go your way. To some, abortion would be akin to playing Monopoly with a “Get Out of Jail” card.
Here’s the question though: If safe and legal abortion were an “easy way out,” wouldn’t that be a good thing? Is it really preferable for people to do things “the hard way”?
The problem with taking these critiques of abortion as an “easy way out” seriously is that the analogy seems to suggest that the hard route is the only correct and fair route to deal with an unwanted or unintended pregnancy.
Here’s the good news though: In countries where abortion is legal, those who want the “easy way out” and those who want to do it “the hard way,” are free to make those choices.
In other words, if you think that every single pregnancy should be carried to term, you can do it every single time you are pregnant. But, what if someone doesn’t want to carry a pregnancy to term? Should they be forced to carry one to term just because you think they should?
To even suggest that every pregnancy can be carried to term is coming from a privileged perspective. It comes with a number of often unwarranted or incorrect assumptions:
- You may assume that the pregnant woman is physically able to carry a pregnancy to term.
- You may assume that the pregnancy came as the result of consensual sexual contact, and that forcing a woman to proceed with a pregnancy will not interfere with her recovery from sexual assault.
- You may assume that an unborn child is “a person” and his choices are as important as those of the living, breathing pregnant person.
- You may assume that every person who gets pregnant is ready to compromise her health, finances, and career in order to care for a child she doesn’t want or isn’t prepared for.
- You may assume that carrying a pregnancy to term is “not a big deal,” since it’s only nine months. But how about the years after delivery?
All these assumptions can easily be debunked by a single glance at the sobering statistics in the Philippines:
- One in ten adolescent women aged 15-19 years old are pregnant with their first child or are already mothers
- The number of young mothers aged 15-19 has more than doubled in the last decade
Do you honestly think that it’s wiser to force a 15-year-old to carry a pregnancy to term? Should we, as a society, force her into motherhood “to teach her a lesson?” Wouldn’t it be more humane to give her the “easy way out” and let her make the decision to be a mother when she has established a career, or finished her schooling, or has secured sufficient finances, or has matured as an adult?
There are just too many things to consider: What if the pregnant person is too young? What if her body isn’t physically ready to carry a pregnancy to term? What if she falls ill? What if the woman was raped? What if the woman has already made the lifestyle choice to be child-free? What if she doesn’t want to change her current lifestyle? What if she wants to pursue a demanding career? What if she can’t even afford the necessary medical care?
The great thing about abortion is that it’s not compulsory. If you neither need or want one, you don’t have to have one. However, some people do need and want an abortion. You shouldn’t deny them that right, just because of some irrational bias against the “easy way out.”
For more resources on abortion please visit: EnGendeRights’ Policy Briefs and Fact Sheets
Padilla, C. R. (2016, December). “Access to Safe and Legal Abortion and Post-Abortion Care Can Save Filipino Women’s Lives.” Retrieved on: July 30, 2017.