Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Abort! Abort! Abort!

Once again the debate about who should have the final say about the continuation of a pregnancy has shown it's ugly face. The question faced by the Mehta couple is that if their child is indeed born with a heart defect that could eventually lead to, at best, being on a ventilator, or at worst the child losing it's life due to heart failure (maybe dying would be the better option and being on the ventilator the worse option... I don't know), then would it be worth it. If the parents know that they cannot afford the costs to keep their child on a ventilator, what's wrong in them opting for an abortion of the pregnancy and try for another child, hopefully which wouldn't have any threatening defects?

The law here is based purely on medical science, which is that a pregnancy can be terminated only before 20 weeks and not after, for two important reasons: 1) A termination after 20 weeks increases the chances of risk to the mother's life. 2) After 20 weeks, technically, the foetus starts to show signs of life i.e. if it were to be delivered before the 20th week, it would be born as a still born (meaning without life), but if it were to be be born after the 20th week, it could technically survive because it would be born 'alive', and so in the most technical sense, you would be killing something (someone) that (who) has signs of 'life'.

Agreed, in the case of the Mehta's, the pregnancy is in it's 26th week, and so there could be risk to Mrs. Mehta's life. But if that is the sole reason to deny an abortion (because the mother is at risk), then why don't we have laws that check for risks involved in other day-to-day actions: like we've been taught in school to look right and then left while crossing the roads or we could end up in an accident, but we don't have laws that mandate we do this. Why not? After all, it could lead to death if not followed carefully. Hospitals are supposed to use disposable syringes, but a person reusing a syringe is not punished for putting his or her life in danger. There are several examples that can be cited to counter the argument that the mother's life may be at risk and hence the abortion shouldn't be performed.

For the Mehta's sake, I hope their child is born without any defects and can lead a normal life. What the heck am I saying: normal? How the hell can the child live a normal life even if he or she is born without any defects? The child's entire life will be enveloped in the fact that it's parents never wanted it to be born for fear of losing it, and all this because in the 21st century, we like to watch everything in technicolour. This story has been in all the news channels and papers and I'm certain that even if the child is insulated from this fact, he or she will eventually get to know about it. What then? Who should bear the responsibility for the child's trauma? The parents? No, not at all. Since it is primarily societal pressure that is preventing the couple from doing what they feel is best for their child, the blame has to be put squarely on our society. I certainly hope to live to see the day when we stop making decisions based on societal pressures (the first one that comes to mind apart from abortion is marriage of the girl child, where everyone's opinion but the girl's is taken).

Pro-life, pro-choice, the debate isn't new, not in India, not anywhere else in the world. It's been a cause for the religious loonies to lose their marbles every now and then, and it's also been the catalyst for a lot of political strife. I for one know that I am very consistent with my views on death. I'm pro death penalty, I'm pro choice (pro abortion), I'm pro suicide, I'm pro assisted suicide (euthanasia)... in short, I'm pro death if a person wishes it for himself or herself, and in the case of abortion, if they wish it for a foetus (because it isn't born yet, and only the parents get to decide if it's a 'person' or not, and if it should be 'born' or not). At least I'm not a hypocrite, which can't be said about most of those who are on the other side.


Mad angel said...

Pro life= Anti abortion....Once a child has been concieved, the life has begun, and you have no control over creating life, you have none over destroying it either(abortions, suicides). Its going against the laws of nature.

Karthik Shetty said...

Using the same logic, you shouldn't use medical science to help treat potentially fatal diseases coz that too would constitute going against nature. No one seems to have objections there, do they?

Mad angel said...

You dont need the aid of medical sciences for abortions, in ancient times, certain herbs were used, and sometimes just over exertion or starvation does the trick! I'll tell you a story about it sometime, which will leave you no doubt on how wrong abortion is.

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