04 Sep Abortion and the Need for Secularism
“It is for God to decide who lives and who dies.” This is a common argument religious people make against the termination of a pregnancy. If, for example, the doctor intervenes and terminates an unhealthy pregnancy, some people believe that doctors are attempting to “stop God’s plan to create a life.”
This logic, of course, fails when properly examined. For the most part, every single medical intervention could be accused of a human attempt to interfere with “God’s plan.” After all, car accidents, viruses, heart attacks, plagues, broken bones, and natural disasters could all be considered part of “God’s plan.” Does it mean that healing injuries acquired through these means are just various forms of man’s attempt to meddle with the divine? Should we stop all forms of medical intervention to keep true to our faith?
Here’s the biggest problem with raising “God’s plan” as an argument against abortion: every single religion, in fact, every single person has a different understanding, interpretation, and relationship with his or her God, and all of them have different beliefs on the nature of God’s plan.
This is the main reason why the need for secularism has emerged. When a society proposes and implements policies according to one religion, these policies automatically alienate people who do not believe in that religion.
Arguments which invoke religious belief are unconvincing to people who do not belong to that particular religion, and especially unpersuasive to people who have no religion. Needless to say, laws should not be based on claims which rely on religious faith.
In the Philippines, however, it’s a different story. Most debates that surround reproductive health in general and abortion in particular are not even based on medical or scientific theories.
In more enlightened countries, the debate is on the concept of “personhood” or “consciousness.” At what stage of development does consciousness emerge? Is a living organism without a consciousness a person? In extremely dangerous pregnancies, whose life should matter more? Shouldn’t a completely conscious person have more rights than a fetus who isn’t even a person?
These are the questions we should be asking. However, in the Philippines, the debate doesn’t even get off the ground because many Filipino politicians have relied too heavily on the religious concept of conception.
Basically, for many Filipinos, the moment of conception begins as soon as a sperm makes contact with an egg cell. As a result, we live with laws that weigh the life of an individual, a completely conscious person, as being equal to that of two cells touching.
It’s such a narrow and misinformed concept of “protecting life,” because whether or not a Filipino woman is capable of a healthy pregnancy, there are currently no laws that can grant her access to safe and legal abortion.
The main reason why the government denies these services is the belief that it will “save” lives. But what if a mother dies because of pregnancy complications after being denied safe and legal abortion services? How many lives are affected?
The situation in the Philippines is so dire that according to the policy brief, “Access to Safe and Legal Abortion and Post-Abortion Care Can Save Filipino Women’s Lives”:
There is an estimated nine living children who will lose their mothers every day due to maternal mortality resulting from complications from unsafe abortion.
In addition to that, statistics also reveal that children who lose their mothers receive less health care and are more likely to die. Not only do our current laws risk women’s lives, it also puts the children they already have at risk.
This is the very reason why there should be a clear separation of church and state, especially with regard to matters of science and medicine, and it’s about time we remind everyone, especially our government, of that fact.
For more resources on abortion please visit: EnGendeRight’s 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: August 29, 2017.