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The Last Resort: Why Decriminalize Abortion?

I believe that decriminalization of abortion is the most sensible response, not because abortion is desirable, but its passage to legality is a necessary step.

The decriminalization (or not) of abortion is undoubtedly one of the most controversial issues, and not without reason. To begin with —and the reader should know that my questions have a deep philosophical questioning that transcends, or is intended to transcend, the legal— is it morally acceptable to deliberately end the life of a human being?

Although many will stubbornly say no, the truth is that the answer, however much fear and rejection it may cause us, is “it depends.” If I were, as an example, in the jaws of a seven-meter long great white shark, I would probably be grateful if a fisherman, an accidental witness to my fate, would shoot me and speed up the process. Any rescue attempt, in such an extreme situation, is futile.

But in the case of an unborn, these are not the conditions. There is, evidently, no will on the part of the human being in question to manifest (I am not going to get into the debate as to whether a fetus is a human being — or a “person”— or not, because from a philosophical point of view, it does not contribute much. Besides, what am I supposed to engender in my womb as a female homo-sapien? An elephant?). Without that explicit will, the same that is required, for example, to implement, in all legality, euthanasia, we are simply incurring murder.

Is it necessary, moreover, to decriminalize abortion, when in most Western countries, access to contraceptive methods is free or at a very low cost? In several nations, both in the developed and developing world, it is enough to go to a hospital and ask for a condom. No one will charge anything. In France, contraceptive pills are covered by social security up to the age of 25 (provided a medical prescription is presented).

We also have, in most of these countries, a solid sex education, usually at some point in high school, that warns us of the dangers of unprotected sex.

The question, then, repeats itself: is the decriminalization of abortion desirable, despite all the aspects explained (and I haven’t even covered them all)?

Yes.

In the first place, no one in their right mind is in favor of abortion per se. What so many of us defend is its decriminalization, the state’s enabling women not to be criminally prosecuted for having been in such a desperate situation that the only way out has been an absolutely radical decision with immense emotional consequences.

Secondly, the “why abort when a child can be given up for adoption and thus save ‘both lives’?” thing only happens in the most ideal of worlds, the one in which communism would never have been listened to and celebrated by more than two individuals of dubious critical capacity.

That world in which, evidently, we would all want to live, simply does not exist. And this second “ideal solution” (that of eventual adoption) is particularly problematic because it assumes an oft-repeated lie: that “the hard part” comes purely and exclusively after childbirth.

A fetus can present health complications that directly threaten the physical integrity of the mother. On the other hand, even when this is not the case, those nine months with an unwanted baby in the womb can be a real nightmare.

Contrary to the belief of those who oppose the decriminalization of abortion, we are not talking here exclusively about women who, after a one-night stand, suddenly discover that their actions have consequences that affect, namely, not only their bodies. In most cases, abortion is an infinitely difficult decision for women in extremely vulnerable situations.

And I should know a thing or two about that.

At the age of twelve, I was a victim of rape, as is sadly the case for so many people. I vividly remember every situation, every feeling, every attempt to defend myself. I remember the thud of my shoulder blades and hips on that cold floor, cold as indifference. I remember the weight, on me, of an individual taller and stronger than me. I remember that, once I realized that nothing would be accomplished with blows, I saw a bike against the wall in front of me. During the whole act, even after penetration, I tried with my foot to bring the bike down on my rapist. “It will hurt him —I thought— and he will have to stop.” It didn’t. He got away with it.

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There are cases of extreme vulnerability. (Image: Flickr)

My memories don’t end there. I remember, the next day, the bruises on my body, on my back. I had to put three mirrors in a specific position to see them in their entirety.  I remember the chipped fingernails, the embarrassed face. I remember the feeling of guilt because, I reasoned, “this doesn’t happen to everyone, and if it happens to me, it’s because of something I did”. I remember the crying that broke the nights, the isolation. I remember thinking that the best thing to do would be to disappear from all places, from all times, forever.

Personally, I healed. I healed because I come from a family that gave me everything and because I am made of titanium. I healed and my relationships healed as well. I never saw men as sexual predators nor do I believe that they are all potential rapists, such are the slogans of fanaticism that sows hatred in a spirit of division in what is nothing more than a silly power struggle.

Had I become pregnant, I would not have healed. And even if having an abortion would have affected me psychologically, that hypothetical option was closer to healing than its opposite.

No one should want an abortion. But faced with horror, uncertainty, fear, and guilt, that option should be legal. And this last resort should be the subject of more understanding on the part of freedom advocates.

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