The topic of abortion is perhaps one of the most controversial political debates in recent history, a debate reignited this past month by a new law passed in the American state of Alabama on May 15.
The law bans all abortion, at any stage of pregnancy. There are currently no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal viability. The new law will see doctors who perform an abortion facing up to 99 years in prison – 89 more years than someone convicted of rape.
An 11-year-old girl in Ohio was allegedly raped by a 26-year-old multiple times, leaving her pregnant, according to police reports. A state law claims that victims like her will be forced to carry their rapist’s child.
The reality is, abortions have always and will continue to occur, no matter the state of the law. If one is truly committed to preventing the loss of life, we must change the way we approach taboo subjects.
The Netherlands are an excellent example of sex education and healthy discussion preventing abortion. Abortion is freely available in the Netherlands; however, they boast the lowest abortion rate in the world at just six abortions per 1,000 women, per year, with miniscule rates of complication or death as a result of the procedure. This is a direct result of widely available and free contraceptives, extensive education on family planning and the consequences that come with sexuality. Dutch teenagers reportedly have less frequent sex than their American counterparts and have a teenage pregnancy rate nine times lower than the United States.
If abortion can be avoided with simple education and resources, why aren’t we engaging in this solution?
Forcing a woman to carry out an unwanted pregnancy is, according to the United Nations, considered a crime against humanity. Human Rights Watch states: “... equitable access to safe abortion services is first and foremost a human right. Where abortion is illegal and unsafe, women are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term or suffer serious health consequences and even death. Approximately 13 per cent of maternal deaths worldwide are attributable to unsafe abortion – between 68,000 and 78,000 deaths annually.”
Ultimately, this debate is far too complex to adequately argue in my allotted word count. However, I believe the ban in the United States, and the arguments of local pro-lifers, have far more to do with control than the protection of children.
A state that bans abortion but is ranked 49th in the nation for education, does not care about children. A state that denies the basic human rights of an 11-year-old does not care about children. A nation guilty of perpetrating human rights violations against migrant children does not care about children. If you are to claim a pro-life stance, you should unequivocally stand up for all lives: the lives of women, the lives of black children, poor children, queer children and disabled children.
If our governments are committed to a pro-life stance, we can always legislate mandatory vasectomies – they are reversible, after all.
Jennifer Hamilton is a local student and writer.