Friday, February 16, 2007

Secular values

Abortion is not only a women’s issue. A socio-cultural debate is necessary on the subject. Why? In Poland the plan is to write into the constitution that interrupting a pregnancy is illegal, also in case of rape, also in case of incest. When a women is sick during pregnancy, she will not be allowed to take medication if that could endanger the child… This is happening through the influence of the church, just as the opposition to civic unions and ‘gay marriage’. Churches can think and say what they want. Free thought and free speech does however not give the right to impose one’s views on governments or parliaments. People who oppose abortions use phrases like ‘the Swedish slaughterhouse’, because abortion is legal there. In the US Tashina Byrd went with her boyfriend to Wal-Mart to buy Plan B® - the "morning-after" pill, the pharmacist laughed and said, "We have it on hand, but there's no one here who can dispense it." This happened at a Wal-Mart in Springfield, Ohio. In Belgium, 40% of all interruptions of pregnancies is requested by young women of the first generation come from Middle and Eastern European Catholic and Christian countries and Africa (27,5 %). In the remaining 12,5 % the seccond generation Turkish and Moroccan women are the largest group. Poverty and cultural and linguistic barriers which result in no or incorrectly use anti conception, still play a role. In Ireland the debate has been almost impossible since 1980. As long as religious groups act as if there are no secular values, a rational debate will be hard to come by. The issues are: decriminalization of women having had an abortion, respecting their reproductive rights and all options, and improving women’s health. Poland and France have a similar size population. In Poland however abortion is illegal whereas in France it has been legalized 32 years ago. You may be astonished to learn that both countries have a similar amount of abortions per year. The predicted inflation of the figures just never happened in France. What did change was that the death rate of women being cared for in medical facilities dropped spectacularly and that the consequences where no longer life threatening or maiming for a large percentage of women. The debate if conducted in a rational way sways even very catholic countries like Portugal, where in a recent referendum the people of the country decided abortions should be legalized. The issues dealt with in Portugal were: Decriminalizing the women, legalizing the procedure, women’s health, aspects of equity and public health within society. Rich people could go to Spain, while poor women often lost their life in back rooms or suffer the consequences physically for the rest of their life. The discussion shouldn’t be about when life starts. It is not a religious discussion since legalization doesn’t impose anything; it only does away with hypocrisy. Decent medical facilities, and dealing in a human, responsible way with a crises situation saves and improves women’s lives because they are no longer mutilated but dealt with in a respectful, caring way. Let’s recognize the need, do away with hypocrisy and treat women with respect.

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