Global issues about abortion vary with places where there are places such as China abortion is easy to get. However, they are now entangled in sex-selective abortions. In places like Nicaragua and Nepal where residents are even fearful to visit a doctor and consequently engage in botched abortions and some are convicted or jailed since the law are very strict.
Abortion has been a controversial issue and is likely to continue being argued for years to come. The effects to women who abort are physical, emotional and mental as their bodies undergo unaccustomed changes (Mathai 73). The main contention is who has the right to about? People generally take it as the woman’s right but what of the father’s right. The two side are; pro-choice which supports abortion and pro-life who believe in having the child and living with it. There are various factors that justify or nullify abortion; both group and individual reasons. This paper will look at the various cultural issues surrounding abortion across cultures (Mathai 78).
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In Swaziland, abortion is illegal which results to apprehended suspects being convicted. There have been efforts to legalize abortion in the country based on women health issues. This followed a situation in which 1000 women were treated for complications associated with abortion at a single facility in the country. Whereas in South Africa its abortion is legal, solid methods of family planning has resulted to few maternal deaths the case is different is Swaziland. Abortion related deaths reduced significantly by 91% between 1994 and 2001 in South Africa (Dalby 8).
Legalization in Swaziland would help reduce the number of female deaths due to illegal and botched terminations which account for 16% of all female deaths in the country. Most are caused by delays in seeking medical intervention, hemorrhaging and complications associated with illegal abortions. There are possibilities that many cases are not reported which calls for more action. This would help reduce the 19% of maternal mortality caused by illegal and unsafe abortions (Raymond 219).
There has been a controversial issue surrounding abortion in Swaziland being perceived as a population control measure. This is especially among the young people whose babies are seen as a burden to the government. This was the justification put by the minister for youth affairs saying that there was no need to bring up babies in a life of hardships which they do not deserve. However, The Times of Swaziland opposed the reason; saying condom use would equally have the same effect. This government stand can be seen as a reason to justify the unbalanced population growth in line with the GDP (Dalby 8).
Sex selective abortion in China and India
selective abortion is terminating a pregnancy with reference to the expected sex of the unborn child. Female fetuses are aborted more than male fetuses especially in areas where male cultural values override those of the females. Such areas include India, Pakistan, China and Caucasus. The gender ratio has been greatly affected where the sex ratio of males per 100 has increased over the years. Sex selective abortion is also called “gendercide” and has been criticized a lot in India although the judiciary and police have not effectively implemented the law governing ultrasound for sex selection abortion (Parivar 43).
In China, 1 million female babies are aborted annually while thousands of born female babies have been reported missing. The male preference culture in China has been strengthened by the one-child policy which has resulted to the above consequences. The sex ratio at birth is normally given as 104-106, but in China and India its as high as 130 and 120 respectively. Prenatal sex selection is likely to minimize the amount of family units in the coming generations. Legal processes such as allowing the second child if the first is a girl are some of the measures aimed at addressing this scenario. This is estimates point that by 2020, China and India will have 35 and 25 million more young males. Government efforts include providing incentives to parents having female babies to help bring the sex ratio to equilibrium (Gottdenker 11).
Other areas with alarming sex ratios at birth include Albania, Armenia and countries in South and East Asia. Over 90 million female were estimated to be missing from the national populations of Taiwan, Afghanistan, India, South Korea, Bangladesh and China combined. This was attributed to sex selection suicide culture in these countries. This has been witness in USA especially among specific Asian and Indian families (Raymond 215).
Culture plays a big role in the sex selection and gender preference which are tied to socio-economic conditions. Sex ratio variations are not existent in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Male babies traditionally and culturally provided a source of manual labor and successors of the family lineage in China and India. Even to date labor is important in this two developed nations but exceeding its importance is family lineage. This can be associated with the perception of males as assets and females as liabilities. The patriarchal family structure is what puts the males ahead of the females. Males are seen as heirs who will take care of their parents in old age in modern East Asia (Parivar 53).
In western countries, increased liberalization on attitude rights and laws has seen an interpretation which represents a post material cultural shift out of the traditional and religious, as well as cultural norms. For example amongst the Catholics, there is proof of compartmentalization of their religion away from sexual morality (Abebe 56).
There has been a sparkle that is likely to trigger the pushing of full access to women and girls on reproductive and sexual health. This regards rape pregnancies in countries where abortion is illegal. For example in Poland, a 14 year old teenage was denied legal abortion services as because of hospital workers, the police intimidation and harassment. Amnesty International criticized Polish Courts for denying the teenage the rights to safe and medical abortion. There was no appropriate regard given to the young teenage vulnerability and her feelings.
Also in Argentina, a woman who survived rape after spending months as a brothel captive was reported to have been denied abortion by a country’s judge. She was impregnated and Hospital Ramos Mejja located in the city of Buenos Aires overturned the abortion. This followed an appeal filed through a Catholic organization which requested the pregnancy termination being terminated. This was prompted by public release of information confidential about the patient which included some personal information about the patient. Public display of date and place of intended abortion contributed to the appeal (Gottdenke 11).
However, in 2012 the Argentinean Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing all rape victims to legal and safe medical abortion if they want to without the requirement of a legal order. The above case was a violation of this order which can only be described as cruel, torture, and inhuman. In Poland, legislators are debating on the abortion legislations which will expose the women risks and that girls are exposed to in regard to human violation. If the law is implemented fully, it would mean that women no longer need go for dangerous and clandestine abortions.
Also in Ireland, a woman was reported to have died tragically after being denied abortion. This should act as a catalyst in the Irish government to execute its global human rights which will avail legal and safe abortions (Dalby). Being a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR), it needs to observe its human rights by allowing women who rational and medically need abortion to do so. There is case of a woman who began miscarrying but when she asked if she can abort was denied the request. She later miscarried and a few days afterwards died of blood poisoning (Dalby). Couldn’t the life of this woman be saved if abortion was carried under medical procedures?
In regard to sex selective abortion, the communities need to be educated on how to balance and accept the outcome of a baby’s sex as nature controls itself. This is because there are no ways to predict how or when or under which conditions fertilization should take place to determine sex of a baby. Just like in China and Japan, the government should allow families to have a second child if the first was a girl while holding the one-child policy if the first is a boy. This would help close in the sex ratio at birth by making sure more girls are not aborted.
Giving incentives to mothers who give birth to baby girls such as subsidized education costs and health care support would lead to fewer burdens on raising female children. Hence mothers would take the gamble rather than abort since it’s cheap to bring them up. Other programs could target the female children by giving them specific skills which would make them a good source of human capital. This can be done through lowered requirements to enter into male-dominated and male stream fields. This would turn them to economic assets rather than liabilities.
In regard to legalization of abortion, each country and culture needs to have fully put the cultural, traditional and religious considerations when coming with such legislations. Incorporating the medical experts would provide a good platform for explaining the guidelines and the extent to which abortion can take place. This would by looking at the ethical matters surrounding the reason to justify abortion. Well defined and explicit rules need to be formulated to help deal with the effects of abortion (Gottdenker 12).
Addressing the issues that lead to abortion is the best preventive measure that can be taken. If its sex selection abortion, the suggestion given above can be adopted, if its due to unprotected sex use of condoms and safe day programs and seminars should be organized and training carried out. The use of family planning methods should be done though relevant contraception education to help curb unplanned pregnancies. In cases of rape victims, their autonomy and will to decide whether to keep or terminate the pregnancy should be considered and respected (Raymond 216).
However, as we give pregnant women their right and autonomy to decide, the voice of the father should also be considered. It would be recommended that the will to terminate a pregnancy whether in legally or on medical grounds incorporate the consent of the father or the husband (Reardon 836).
There are various cultural factors that women cite as the reason for aborting legally or illegally. Some include postponing child bearing to a more appropriate time so as to shift attention to studies or work (Reardon 836). This is especially among young people who are in school or have just graduated. Some other reasons could be inability to provide for the expected baby and the economic burden of bringing up the child. Lack of father’s support, troubled relationship with husband or partner, unemployment and incest and/or rape are other reasons for abortion. How permissive a culture is will determine the extent of such reasons being justified.
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