I’ve been away for a couple of weeks, and in that time I remember reading something somewhere about a very controversial topic that I just so happen to have a very strong opinion on: abortion.
Love or loath it, in my opinions it is frequent and undeniably necessary. Whilst it’s a legal practice in the UK other, usually more religious countries, have more regulations and laws in place to stop women from being able to abort their child. What do I think? Well...
There are two reasons to abhor abortion that I’m aware of: Religion, and morality. The two can go hand-in-hand or be completely separate from one another but that depends entirely on the person with the problem.
I’d like to start with the latter, because I’m less likely to offend, and it’s the argument that I think is most justified as a real reason not to get an abortion (depending on your perception, of course).
It’s also a lot easier to explain. When you think about it, getting an abortion is killing a life form. Alright, at the time of abortion the ‘baby’ is hardly more than a bundle of developing cells, but with a little bit more time that could’ve grown into a person.
There’s the pro-life movement, which believes that regardless of the fact the growing fetus has no consciousness or likeness to a human being, it has a right to life and the mother should honour that.
Murder is still murder, even if what you’re killing isn’t ‘alive’, according to this argument.
I obviously have a different view on this, but I can see where they’re coming from. If you imagine yourself as a pregnant woman (I know this is difficult for any male readers, but just humour me) you’d probably have some sort of attachment to the baby inside of you.
Most women have a natural, motherly instinct, whether they want it or not, and that would compel them to feel some sort of affection toward the tiny child they’ve conceived, even if they never meant for it to happen.
Prohibiting abortion because of moral reasons makes sense, because from the point of a mother, it’d be traumatising, to lose a baby, regardless of the nature by which it was conceived.
You’d feel relieved, but also a sort of loss. The point that the fetus is a human being and has a right to life all on its own, though, is unjustifiable in my mind.
What about the mother’s right to life? Maybe she isn’t financially stable enough to support herself and a child, or maybe she’s young and it just isn’t the right time in her life to be starting a family?
Maybe she was raped, or it was a one-night stand? I can’t imagine any circumstances that would convince me to have a baby conceived of a rapist.
If she doesn’t want it, she shouldn’t suffer for the sake of giving life to a baby that probably won’t have very much of a life, anyway.
What sort of a life are you giving that child if it’s born of a mother who doesn’t want it or can’t afford to look after it properly?
That’s a lot of pain to go through just to give a child up for adoption.
Something so controversial is never going to be black and white, and some people thinking that a fetus is the same as a living, breathing individual, that’s alive and can feel sensations the way we do, is not a good enough excuse to prevent somebody who’s anxious from aborting an unwanted pregnancy.
Now, let’s cause a bit of trouble. The religious argument is very similar, with a few embellishments and extra rules for good measure.
To put it briefly, a religious point might be that the woman became pregnant through God’s divine intention, and regardless of whether she was raped or had a problem with a split condom, she should not interfere with God’s plan, because what he wants is what’s best for her.
There’s also a hint of pro-life in there, and typically coitus is religiously regarded as being specifically, and exclusively, for reproduction (if you’re a strict Catholic, in particular. There are other branches of Christianity that are much more open to contraception).
That means that if you’re religious and become pregnant, you can’t have an abortion, because that denies the baby its right to life, as with the pro-life movement, but religiously, you wouldn’t have been able to use contraception in the first place because you should never wish to prevent life, apparently.
At this point I’d like to apologise for using Christianity as my only example; I’m most knowledgeable of Christianity and though I have no personal problems with their religion (you don’t have to believe me, but as far as religion goes the only people I have a problem with are people who try to preach to me about a God I don’t believe in), it’s the one I felt I could use to voice my own opinion in the most effective way.
Fair enough, you think that God wanted that woman there to have a baby, even though she has no money and can’t afford to raise the child. Maybe she’s atheist? Just because you believe in a God and you believe in rules created by an omniscient being for which we have no proof of existence, does not mean everybody else does.
I wholeheartedly appreciate religious doctors who won’t give abortions because it’s against their beliefs, but to base a law on religion is ludicrous. You wouldn’t outlaw wearing stripy socks just because a group of people stood up and said “that man’s socks offend me and I do not believe he should be allowed to wear them as they go against my beliefs!”.
That’s a silly example but if you think about it, it’s exactly the same thing. I’d give a personal example but to be honest most of my opinions side with the controversial so most people would probably disagree with me, but to return to my original point: Just because something is against your own beliefs does not mean it should be illegal.
If the woman your God (that she does not believe in) wanted to have a baby decides to have an abortion, it doesn’t affect you. It has absolutely no impact on your life, whether she does or not.
You don’t know what she’s going through. We see so many people every day, but all we ever get to see is a fleeting glimpse of their entire life, and that’s scary.
You’ve heard her pregnancy story but you don’t know anything else about her. How can you be allowed to pass judgement, through a law made in favour of your personal beliefs, on a girl’s life who you know nothing about? Her decision doesn’t affect you, so you should not be allowed to affect her decision, regardless of what ‘God’ thinks or wants for her.
It’s her life, not yours, and those are your beliefs, not hers.
I think we’re beginning to see why I get in so much trouble for my opinions now. Whilst we’re on the subject, there’s a very similar thing happening in America which is current and has been a feature for quite some time.
Gay marriage has been similarly controversial for religious reasons, because it’s against certain beliefs to be gay. We’ve established that I’m not remotely religious, and as such I’d like to give a scientific rebuttal.
Homosexuality has been observed in close to 1,500 different species, whilst homophobia is seen in just the one. Which one seems unnatural now?
I also like to point out my previous argument that it doesn’t affect you, so why should it bother you? Gay marriage is their decision, just like abortion is hers, and since it isn’t your life you shouldn’t be able to change that.
Can you imagine being kept away from your partner because of a law? I can’t. If there was such a restriction in place on my life I can tell you now I’d be willing to break it (although if there was anything legal stopping me from being with my boyfriend the only thing I can think it would be is that you can’t be with somebody who’s considerably taller than you, which is stupid).
I don’t care if you’re homophobic or not; That’s your decision. I do care if you think your opinion gives you the right to keep happy couples apart from one another and stop them from marrying.
It’s not just their life decision, it’s part of who they are. When did you sit down and think, “I’m going to be straight,”? You probably didn’t. Admittedly it took me a while to figure out what my sexuality was but I never made a decision to be bisexual. I just am. That’s what homosexuality is like. You just are and it’s a part of you. You can’t change that so why should be it illegal? You wouldn’t outlaw being brunette so why would you illegalise homosexuality?
One of my favourite arguments, shamelessly adapted from TV show South Park, is that every human is supposedly created in the image of God. Homosexuality occurs in more than just one or two people - it’s common and normal in today’s society, which means they’re made in God’s image, too. Therefore, God must be a little bit gay himself. Religiously speaking you should “love thy neighbour”, unless your neighbour is gay, obviously.
One more thing to do with abortion that I’ve always believed: If you make it illegal for a woman to walk away from a pregnancy, it should be illegal for her partner to leave her because he wants nothing to do with the pregnancy.
She has to keep the baby because it’s against the law for her to have an abortion, so why can the man who got her pregnant in the first place walk away and leave her to cope by herself?
If she has to keep the baby and look after it, regardless of her situation, the man should be legally inclined to stay and help raise the baby.
He doesn’t have to stay in a relationship, but he should be actively involved with paying for and raising the child, by law, because his partner wasn’t allowed to back out of it, even if she wanted to. He shouldn’t be able to either, no matter what he wants to do. If it’s going to ruin her life it should ruin his too, right? That’s fair.
Laws are supposed to be based on what is just and fair for the majority of people. As far as I can tell, any boundaries in place to do with abortion or gay marriage (or even things like euthanasia, because that’s similar to abortion in that I think it’s right, and a lot of people disagree with me) are due to people’s personal opinions.
That is not what the law is. You can’t create laws just because some people believe in things as those things don’t apply to everyone else.
They don’t have to have abortions, and they don’t have to marry somebody who’s the same gender as them, just because it’s legal.
All the legalisation means is that people who want abortions and people who want to marry their partners, will. Nothing is going to explode. The world will not end and we will not all become sinners and be damned to hell, if you want to look at it that way (if I believed in it I’d be going straight to hell, regardless, but there we go).
It’s fairer to allow people the choice, and leave it up to them whether they take the opportunity given to them or not, than it is to ban it completely and stop hundreds of people from living their lives the way they want to.
Most things, when they’re allowed and regarded with content, are less of a problem. This is going off on a bit of a tangent but imagine two children. One of these children is kept away from cigarettes and alcohol, on the grounds that keeping them away from those things will stop them from ever trying them.
The other child is given the opportunity to drink with their parents, in small doses once they’re of an appropriate age, and isn’t taught that smoking is good, but is given their own freedom to be independent.
Which of the two do you think is going to start drinking and smoking? The child who was allowed is more likely to have a casual opinion of alcohol and appreciate its value and when it’s appropriate. They can drink with their family without it being a big issue so they’re less likely to go out drinking illegally to be rebellious.
Children are naturally rebellious and they like to do the things you tell them not to, and they like to make their own mistakes.
If you try to force them away from alcohol, it’s more likely they’ll end up a heavier drinker, just because they want to rebel against you.
Of course, some things that are illegal you have to teach children not to use, such as drugs, but generally speaking if it isn’t illegal they should be allowed to make their own decision. Can you see where I’m going with this? The government are the parents, and society are the children.
They’re being told they can’t have abortions, and told gay couples can’t get married, so they’re more likely to riot and rebel. If the laws were passed, they’d calm down. Rioting would stop. Gays would marry and unwanted pregnancies would be ended and that would be it.
Opinions don’t give anybody the right to change the law. I know what I’m voicing in this article is an opinion, and by my logic should not alter the law, but my opinion is based on the idea that getting an abortion when you’ve been raped or can’t look after the child, or just generally didn’t plan on getting pregnant, is better than being forced to have a baby regardless of whether it’ll ruin your life.
My opinion is based on the idea that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry and be happy together is easier and more appreciative of them than denying them that one, simple thing.
I’m fighting for everybody’s right to happiness and freedom, rather than the religious-right to stop everybody from sinning against a religion that they probably aren’t a part of.
I don’t have a problem with religion, but I do have a problem with religious people who feel their beliefs should be followed by everybody.
As I said earlier, if a religious doctor who’s uncomfortable with abortion, or a priest/vicar who had a good reason to disagree with homosexuality, does not have to do the practice themselves. I don’t expect them to, if it’s against their beliefs because that wouldn’t be fair either.
If I don’t want to have to follow their beliefs because they oppose my own, I’m certainly not going to force them to adhere to my rules.
All I expect is for abortions to be given to women who want them, and for gay and lesbian couples to be able to marry if they want to. That’s all I want to happen.
I don’t care if specifically non-religious doctors have to complete the abortions, or if only certain priests and vicars will be able to marry homosexual couples, so long as it can be done.
The only times we need laws in place are when people are affecting each other. If certain actions will affect other people and could cause harm, then I understand that we do need regulations to stop people from getting hurt, but an opinion? That isn’t going to hurt you.
We can’t make it illegal to offend people because we’re all so easily offended these days it’s impossible to avoid it.
I’ve probably offended a lot of people with my opinions in this column, but that’s life and you can’t make it illegal for me to say that I support abortion and gay marriage.
I have a right to freedom of speech, remember?
Everybody has a right to be happy, and a right to live their life as they want to, and that’s more powerful than anybody who thinks their life choices should affect their entire country.
Column by Ruby Hryniszak.
Ruby is a regular contributor to the Harborough Mail online.
Follow Ruby on Twitter, @13eautifulLife.