Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Make abortion legal
The above picture taken by Stephen Otage on Thursday November 19, 2009 shows residents of Kifumbira Zone in Kamwokya , a Kampala suburb look at an aborted foetus estimated to be about six weeks old.
According to the Police, this was the third such case in the last three weeks. The impression this revelation gives is that there may be a single abortion a week, but that’s not true. In fact Ministry of Health statistics indicate that annually in Uganda, there are about 600,000 unwanted pregnancies. Of these, probably more than 50 per cent end up being expunged before the nine-month maturation.
But because our Penal Code makes it criminal to abort—unless to save a woman’s life—a lot of the abortions are practiced in hidden, unsafe conditions that many times expose the girls/women to even greater health risks—like uncontrolled hemorrhage.
Opponents of abortion either point to religious dogma or the question of life’s sanctity. They never care about circumstances of conception or its attendant realities.
In Uganda, in districts like Sironko, local research has shown that girls become sexually active by age 12. No amount of sex education is changing this—considering that some of these areas are nearly as traditional in setting as they can be. Tips on sex and sexuality are gotten from the village wells, peers and misinformed talk of adults.
But even their urban counterparts are in no better position. Internet influence, TV soaps, early exposure to notions of contraceptives—are all stimulating their curiosity for sex. Teenage and young youth sex is something we are going to have amidst us—and resultant pregnancies. Question is: Should we make it illegal to abort yet we know that thousands of our young girls are going to conceive without really seeking to? That is the reality.
When we make abortion services criminal, we arrive at a situation like that in Kifumbira Zone. A foetus crudely removed and left next to a rubbish skip.
When we push our girls into aborting in the dark, we shall have many more bleed to death in silence—increasing not only infant mortality but maternal mortality too.
Let girls/women be given the free choice to carry or cut. And when they choose to cut, let’s make sure they can do it freely and hygienically to avoid other problems. A lot of pregnancies in our country are by chance—and to ask that people keep them against their will is to subject them to an eternity of misery.
I have not opted to talk about pregnancies from rape, defilement, incest, one-night-stands, orgies, because I suppose these are fairly straight-forward—and yet we know they saturate our societies.
Please—let’s decriminalize abortion!