The Ethics of Abortion

In recent news, women of Northern Ireland are now able to get free abortions on the NHS in Britain. At present, in Northern Ireland, abortions are only allowed if the mother’s life is in danger or if there is a serious risk to her mental or physical health. Hundreds of women are forced to travel from Northern Ireland to England in order to get an abortion, this is costly and can be incredibly difficult for women.

In many religions and cultures, people believe that abortions should not be allowed unless there are extreme circumstances, for example, if a woman has been raped. Many believe that abortions result in an unlawful killing of a person and can be compared to murder. However, with current laws, in the UK abortions can be carried out until 24 weeks, but in some circumstances, it can be carried out later.

In the UK we are incredibly fortunate to have abortions available on the NHS, in countries like America many women are forced to carry out abortions by themselves at home or at a reduced price locally, but this is very dangerous.

At present, there is no scientific consensus as to when life begins so one can not truly say that women who want an abortion are killing or endangering a child as there is still a debate as to when life begins. Many pro-life advocates believe that life starts at fertilization, others believe it starts when limbs appear or when a major organ system assimilates.

However, the rights of the mother should not be put under the rights of an unborn fetus, The woman is alive and well and we should not undermine her rights and ability to make decisions by putting a zygote in front of her life and decisions. In addition, should we really bring a child into an overpopulated world and one in which its mother was forced to conceive it? Human rights violations in terms of the fetus are dependent on the age of the fetus, below 24 weeks the rights of the mother should be prioritized. However as the mother comes closer to full term, we must consider the human rights violations brought about by the death of a fetus.

Many pro-life supporters believe that abortion is a form of infanticide, which is the unlawful killing of children. Many countries are rife with female infanticide which is gender-based killing, People often kill female babies as traditionally, women were forced to live with their husband’s parents leaving their own parents without someone to care for them. This problem is especially prevalent in China after the one-child policy, which prompted many to kill and abandon female babies in order to try to conceive a male. In some countries, males are also more desired in rural areas as they are seen to be better workers. Abortions on the basis of sex are not lawful and in most cases, the sex of the child cannot be found before 24 weeks.

References:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/abortion

http://ethics.sandiego.edu/presentations/AppliedEthics/Abortion/abortion.pdf

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40438390

http://www.prochoiceactionnetwork-canada.org/abortioninfo/misconce.shtml

http://www.csus.edu/indiv/g/gaskilld/ethics/abortion.htm

 

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to the procedures involving removal of parts of female genitalia. The genitals may be cut, injured or deliberately altered for non-medical reasons. FGM usually takes place when girls are infants until the age of puberty. The practice is banned in the UK.  FGM is globally recognised as a human rights violation, but despite being banned, some people choose to carry the procedure out illegally at home or in a private community.

As it has no medical/health benefits FGM is usually carried out for cultural, religious and social reasons. In some communitites it is seen to prepare a woman for marriage or to preserve her virginity. It must be stressed that there is no justification for these kinds of procedures and as a society we must continue to strive to prevent more women from having to suffer throught such a harmful and dangerous procedure.

There are four main types:

  1. Clitoridectomy – this is a removal of the clitoris and can be partial, sometimes only the skin around the clitoris is removed.
  2. Excision – removal of the clitoris as well as of the labia minora, but not the labia majora, which is a larger flap of skin around the vagina.
  3. Infibulation – implanting a seal over the vaginal opening and narrowing it, this is done by removing pieces of skin from elsewhere and placing them over the vaginal opening using stitches in most cases.
  4. Other – harmful procedures include: pricking, cauterizing and scraping the vaginal area.

 

It is clearly evident that undergoing FGM is traumatic for any woman involved and the effects will be with a woman for the rest of her life., but sometimes women and girls can die from the procedure due to unsanitary conditions and lack of medical guidance when carrying out the mutilation. Some of the side effects include:

  • Severe pain
  • Urinary problems
  • Shock
  • Haemorrhage – severe bleeding
  • Swelling of the genital area
  • Scar tissue malformation
  • Childbirth complications risk increasing
  • Infections
  • Sexual problems, during and after intercourse
  • Psychological problems following the emotional trauma

Treatment:

In some cases, treatment will not help, but in others procedures can be undertaken such as deinfibulation to widen the vaginal opening and to recontruct damaged areas of tissue.

If you know someone who is having an FGM procedure, has had one or if you have had one or will have one yourself it is essential to call the police and to obtain aid. You can see your GP or visit a gynaecologist for additional help.

Police: 999

NSPCC: 0800 028 3550

Childline: 0800 1111

References:

http://forwarduk.org.uk/key-issues/fgm/

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/female-genital-mutilation/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/