Abortion: the wrong right

Published in El Confidencial.com

The debate on abortion is tremendously contaminated by propaganda, by the shouting of the tricoteuses and by a shocking superficiality. If we intend to approach with any seriousness what may constitute the most relevant moral issue of our time, we must start with some data to hand, before getting to the bottom of the matter.

Legal abortion is a very recent development in the Western world. The US legalized it in 1973, France in 1975, Germany in 1976, the Netherlands in 1984, Spain in 1985 and Belgium in 1990. Before that, only the Soviet Union (and other communist countries behind the Iron Curtain), Mexico and very few other countries accepted abortion. Abortion rates vary very much. According to the UN, in Spain there are 12.1 abortions for every 1000 childbearing age women, a much higher rate than that of Germany (7.2), Switzerland (6.7), Belgium (8.7), Italy (10.2), Netherlands (10.1), Portugal (9), Finland (10.6) and, certainly, Ireland (4.4), Austria and Poland (these two having nearly 0). On the other hand, the US or France have higher rates, while Russia, Cuba and China have the highest abortion rates in the world.

The Austrian case is intriguing, because it has few abortions yet a seemingly very permissive legislation. One of the reasons (certainly not the only one) is that in Austria abortion is not free for the individual, as is the case in Spain, where the National Health System takes care of the bill (odd as it may seem, abortion here is considered an illness).

Focusing on Spain, 90% of women who abort are 20 years old or older, and nearly half are older than 30. Just 3% of abortions are due to fetus anomalies, and a tiny 0.02% is related to rapes. 40% of women who abort in Spain are foreigners. Lastly, the typical woman who aborts is single, has a job and has a partner, who typically is employed as well. Therefore, these statistics mean that the stereotype of a frightened teenager or a woman who has become pregnant due to a rape does not reflect the truth, because the vast majority of women who abort are responsible adults who can expect a perfectly healthy baby.

Let’s get to the bottom of the matter. Abortion is subject to an effective propagandistic bombardment that targets the tremendous image of a mother putting an end to her baby’s life or, if you wish, denying him the opportunity to be born and simply exist, (an opportunity neither she, nor me, nor you, dear reader, was ever denied,). Thus, pro-abortion propaganda exclusively focuses its attention on the alleged right of the mother, as if she had no obligations or no responsibility whatsoever (as any other adult would), and as if there were no other interested parties with potential rights, neither the nasciturus (in Latin, he who is going to be born) nor the father. However, in seriousness, the debate on abortion should only deal with a simple question: is the nasciturus a human life, therefore, having the right to live, or not? Logically, the burden of the proof should belong to the pro-abortion side, but nonetheless I will put forward a few comments.

If a desired pregnancy is celebrated with extreme joy (“I am expecting a baby!”), it seems difficult to understand that the mere change in the will of the mother can change the nature of the living creature inside her and that, just because he is unwanted, what would otherwise be considered “a baby” is now a group of cells or an undetermined form of life to which we can violently put an end. He’s either a baby or he’s not. But whatever he is, it cannot depend on whether the mother wants him to be born or not, on whether it is convenient for her or not to continue her pregnancy. Secondly, everyone agrees that a newborn baby is a human life with all its rights. What about a day earlier? Was he a human life? What about two days earlier? What about the babies being born after just 7 months of pregnancy? Were they already human lives an instant before getting out of the womb? It seems difficult to justify a turning point that changes the substance of such a living creature, so that one minute he is nothing and the next he is a human life we must protect. Gestation is a continuous process, so a reasonable doubt in such a delicate issue should make us err on the side of caution, being overly prudent before deciding that ripping off a life whose heart has been beating since the third week since conception is morally right. We should add that the fact that the nasciturus depends on his mother for survival is irrelevant: babies and infants (for many years), sick or old people depend on others for survival, and that does not mean that those who care for them have the right to end their lives at will.

In the Western societies we live in, enslaved by aesthetics and alien to ethics, an image is everything. Imagining Cleveland’s psychopathic kidnapper that made the headlines a few months ago repeatedly kicking one of his victim’s womb to provoke five miscarriages horrifies us with good reason. However, the violent (but anonymous) death of a fetus by a doctor performing an abortion seems natural. The psychopath was going to be accused of five murders and yet the doctor is deemed to have behaved legally? If it were forbidden to abort before the 14th week of pregnancy (echograms, heartbeats, baby kicks…), or if pictures and videos of abortions were shown with all detail in sexual education courses, would the number of abortions increase or decrease? But we know that “out of sight, out of mind”. Abortion needs secrecy, hiding and lying to subsist. It depends on not being watched so we don’t feel guilty. Therefore, the fight against abortion should start by a persistent pedagogy that will make it more difficult for us to comfortably and cowardly close our eyes to this deplorable reality.

In consonance with these thoughts, and firmly believing that every human life is a precious gift that we ought to protect, I am against abortion. I also believe that in the future it will be considered something shameful, improper of a society that calls itself civilized.

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