Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ideology Questions-Obituaries of Young Girls

Many who know me may recall some strict pro-life convictions on my part. For the most part, I still believe human life begins at conception. I believe that pregnancy is not a measure of character and that motherhood should not determine a woman's employment or reputation. I believe that all should be done to allow babies and mothers to thrive and I never really liked the idea of abortion. At the same time, a few troubling questions have come up, especially since my stay here.

Abortion is actually legal in Kenya under the old Constitution. However, it's legal under strict circumstances and guidelines. In addition, stigma is still attached to the procedure and it remains extremely inaccessible to most Kenyan women. Even though the new Constitution was merely clarifying, NOT adding new policy, the Catholic bishops of Kenya still felt the slightest mention an outrage and urged others to vote no, despite the multitude of other positive changes (that fall more in line with Catholic values than how the government is currently run) present. Basic health care still remains out of reach for many so, even if abortion was not so heavily stigmatized, it would still be inaccessible.

What does this have to do with my viewpoint? I started realizing the problems lack of access can cause. What really catalyzed this was the presence of obituaries in The Standard. Some of them were for young girls who passed away from illegal, back alley abortions. One in particular had procured one (by OD'ing on drugs) after becoming pregnant by her secondary school teacher. I never felt so angry.

Because of a man's abuse, a young girl is dead! By the way, so is her baby. Rather than save both lives, both were extinguished. Both extinguished before they ever really began.

I don't think abortion should be birth control. I think every effort should be made to reduce the need for one. This includes giving young women and men education and resources. This includes removing stigma of unwed pregnancy, of women in the work force, and of young motherhood. This includes providing opportunities for job training, connections with employers, and chances for education. This includes providing family friendly policies that allow women to earn a living while taking care of children. This includes making sure men and fathers are accountable and responsible for the children they beget and the women they are with. This includes making health care a priority. Finally, it includes making sure any abortion is done in a doctor's office, with qualified supervision and sanitation.

I don't like abortion. I'd like to see it rare. I'd like to see a need for it reduced. However, I must also value the mother's life. No teenage girl should have to die alone with her child due to some man's greed. No woman should have to leave little ones behind because she can't afford another one. No mother should feel she has nothing left to lose if a pregnancy puts her life in jeopardy and her child is unlikely to be viable.

Restricting abortion to this extent isn't saving anyone. Rather, two lives are lost at once. For what?

I wonder what those bishops would say if they had daughters.

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