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Abortion is a moral dilemma! The gender and the feminist in me conflict!

05 Sep 2016 at 00:12hrs | Views
Dear Tsungai, you have given us a very challenging topic indeed: Abortion in Zimbabwe is a much contested topic. At best it should never be spoken. How do I speak about this topic freely without trumping on the bang ions of our most conservative societies without being labelled a witch at best, satanic but last? A country that has such a high rate of rape and abuse of girl children and young women, it is my prudent opinion that abortion in Zimbabwe should be legalised to avoid unwanted children born in their thousands. 

But because your topic demands expertise with social scientific, psychological, medical knowledge, I am however none of the above, I am using my gut feelings, my stomach to comment on it. I am wholly catholic but my answers are far from the catholic views regarding abortion. Having lived in Germany more than three quarters of my life, let me start by looking at how the German societies view abortion and what have they done, what steps were taken to legalize it.

Abortion is not legal in Germany, it is forbidden by law. Only on exceptional cases can a woman be granted permission to terminate her foetus. Again this permission is granted within three months plus three days of pregnancy. The three days is the window given by the law to consult and then after be admitted in any clinic to act on abortion within those three stipulated days. This means that according to the statutory law (paragraph 218) the so-called penal code, permission to abort is in conformity with a list of exceptions. (a) A woman has to qualify for a legal abortion; (b) a pregnant woman must have adequately consulted and received all necessary information regarding abortion and the alternative to abort the foetus. (c) The pregnant woman must have a written document from a recognized consulting centre ever to be allowed for abortion in any clinic and hospital. The reason for abortion should border on health (risk of impairment of mother's health) and criminal reasons, example victims of rape. In Germany there is no such a thing as "Abtreibung auf lust."

In Germany abortion are carried out free of charge in any clinic or hospital. The medical aid provides adequate provision for such offers. In 2015 alone 99,200 cases of abortion were reported in the country and 4% were permitted on criminal grounds. The question why so many abortions in such a developed country with the best medical facilities in the world? Anti-baby pills are legal and free of charge, the medical aid takes charge of all costs relating to it. Again sex education is abundantly taught and thoroughly dealt with in schools from the age of 11 years upwards. Still teenagers will get pregnant, 99% of which are unwanted pregnancies. Is it the stubborn nature that defies science that children will be born under any circumstances?

Globally and in Zimbabwe too, the reasons why teenage pregnancies occur are to some extent the absence of parents, teenage drinking and wild parties, sexual abuse, rape and peer pressure that compels them to do it also so as to be cool! Girls today mature faster both physically and emotionally making it possible to engage in sexual relationship before the stipulated age of 18. But it is not the teenagers who get unwanted pregnancies but also women across all child bearing ages. Unwanted pregnancies will be referenced to teenagers because they are a vulnerable social group. It can therefore be safely said that as long as a woman follows those stipulated procedures of paragraph 218a, a woman can have abortion in some of German clinics and hospitals. There is no really stigma to those women and teenagers who have had an abortion in Germany except of course in churches.

Coming back to your question, Tsungai, why is the word abortion such an abomination to ever utter it in our societies in Zimbabwe? We have to ask what do our societies view and say about abortion in the first place: the culture of the land, the church, the clinical- psychological aspect of abortion. What morals to do they attached to abortion? The church, the culture and the law argue against abortion using the same set of values. They in tandem are agreeable to forbidding abortion altogether: clinical and otherwise.

There is a moral dimension with regards to abortion in Zimbabwe and to deal with our conservative profile position about abortion we need a broad philosophical debate country-wide, an outreach that will clearly tackle the existence of this moral problem that presupposes some conflict of values, goals or interest. The fact is that it is a moral problem; it should be placed on the public agenda to talk openly about it mostly to remove silence and guilt related to abortion and sex. By discussing it  openly; however polarizing it is, it will assist in de-criminalizing it and deal with it as a social problem that affects most women of all ages.
The Catholic Church is against any deliberate abortion defines it as morally a grave sin and it bases its natural law on written word of God. In the early days of Catholic teachings a woman who aborted could easily be excommunicated in the Catholic Church. The Church of England combines strong opposition to abortion with a recognition that there can be strictly conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any available alternative.

The Church of England shares the same views with the Roman Catholic views that put it: "In light of our conviction that the foetus has the right to live and develop as a member of the human family, we see abortion, the termination of that life by the act of man as a great moral evil. We do not believe that the right to life as a right pertaining to persons, admits of no exceptions whatever; but the right of innocent to life admits surely of few exceptions indeed." Taken from the Church of England Board of Social Responsibility, 1980.

Abortion is in most cases the result of unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. The decision to terminate pregnancy is not simple or casual at all. Such  decisions are  typically motivated by diverse interrelated reasons. A woman will have looked at all aspects of her life: economically, can she afford yet another child, morally if she is single what will family or the members of her church view her, are they going to accept her, socially; what will the family or society view her, was she forced by the boyfriend to abort, or did the boyfriend abscond when he realised she had become pregnant?

When a woman finally takes that final decision; an abortion is terminated, it does not end there as there are emotional and psychological aspects she has to deal with. The emotional consequences of abortion are transient guilt, anxiety, regret, guilt, shame, sense of loss, anger, depression moods, sense of loneliness and isolation, loss of self confidence, insomnia or nightmares, suicidal thoughts and feelings, eating disorders, the list is long. Curiously very few women who have aborted can deal with these side effects effectively, even if it was her decision to do so.

These negative effects of post abortion emotional adjustments are a direct response to the societal perception about abortion, the stigma related to it and their reaction to her actions. Such a woman may be denied any support to assist her with her heavy emotional weight she is carrying. The woman will feel she will face disapproval from her family or society or church because she will have broken the social norms: non tolerance to abortion. This is not say all women suffer the same above mentioned post abortion effects these effect are experience differently, vary from one woman to the other.

Abortion in some societies is a loss of life, bereavement. To some it is socially unacceptable as a result most women will conceal abortion to protect themselves from shame and fear of severe moral judgement.

Abortion is defined as deliberate termination of pregnancy and it falls into a debate always those who say it is right and those who say it is wrong. Argument against those who say it is wrong say abortion is killing an innocent human being because lives start at conception. A foetus is a unique human person that is unique with its genetic code. Killing a foetus is destroying lives and to allow abortion is legalizing killing, reduces respect for life, can lead to euthanasia, genocide and increased murder.

The arguments in favour of abortion say a foetus is not a natural person with a right to life unless a collection of human cells have a particular stage of development. A foetus is just a potential human being and do not have the right to life. A woman is the one who has that special relationship with the foetus and therefore she has the right to decide about her body without any moral connotations or interventions.

Looking at the emotional consequences of unwanted pregnancies, it will assist the argument related to pro-abortion in view of those children who were actually born. Unwanted pregnancies lead to birth of children with long standing life of distress and disabilities. Such children will have been born by mothers will have been coerced to sex: rape, incest, the list is long. Unwanted children are at high risk of all forms abuse and usually suffer deprivation of quality of life. In Zimbabwe we have thousands of street children we need to ask ourselves why are there so many of them in the street and in all towns and cities? Why would a woman take a child and dump it at the market? Have we not heard of women who threw babies in Blair toilets? What about some young woman who beheaded her son of two years old in Mathebeleland North. Not even three days ago a new born baby was discovered buried in a shallow pit, started crying, alarmed a passerby who rescued it. There are so many examples of unwanted children in our midst. It is in this loaded contest that I am of the opinion that not all children should be born.

Globally one third of all pregnancies are accidental, but one cannot quantify the number correctly, some say it's deliberate to force the man to marry the woman. That dimension can never be effectively debated as there are no clear demarcation lines. However, Zimbabwe is just like all other countries, is a sexually active country. Women have become liberated; can determine their destiny easily making it possible to equally seek greater number of partners: JUST LIKE THEM, but resulting in unwanted sex, condom or without!

Much as I would have liked to dwell on man – woman relations at home in Zimbabwe that are still not equal, we have to this date serious gender issues. Most women do not determine their sexual lives in the bedrooms; it's still the men who determine when he wants it that day. (rape in marriage beds) A woman will just have the children and not that she will have wanted but because the man wanted it. Let us not go that far but leave this topic it for another day.

Dear Tsungai, my feedback may be clumsy. I am not a social scientist, I am not a lawyer by profession either, but I do like to take part in such motive issues regarding our Zimbabwe. You are a lawyer dear Tsungai, please allow me to answer two questions. Do we have abortion laws at place in Zimbabwe? Can we put this emotive topic in our "women's manifesto so that it will be deliberated together with other issues bedevilling women in Zimbabwe?

We should debate homosexuality: gay/lesbian relations in Zimbabwe. We have read so many situations that suggest that homosexuality is prevalent and it is not a western culture but found in almost all cultures in Zimbabwe. If we have names like Ngochane or Isitapane it simply means that homosexuality is existent and a hidden practice. It will be interesting how you will deal with this legally dear Tsungai.

Ayo ndiwo angu mashoko dear Tsungai. In the meantime we are happy that Mrs. Bona Mugabe-Chikowore wished for a baby and she got it. We shall look after it too when our revolution is successful. Revolutionary greetings to you with this #Flag
#This Flag  #Tajamuka  #Hatichatya  #Asikijiki

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