To abort or not? The man not in question

James Lutaaya Esq. :

A survey in 2005 by International Family Planning Perspectives found that although Uganda’s law permits induced abortion only to save a woman’s life, many women obtain abortions, often under unhygienic conditions. A year after, the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) concluded that there are 297,000 abortions induced annually, while an estimated 85,000 women experience complications, but receive no treatment. However, unreported induced abortions by desperate students and poorer women who can not afford 'illegal' abortions in most clinics and hospitals in Uganda despite the unimplemented law are the bigger cause for worry.  Use of herbal concoctions, sharpened tools, very strong tea bags, drinking omo (washing powder), over dozing on aspirin to thin the blood and kill foetus among other unimaginable methods are a desperate call for debate on this issue.

The 2006 report says 7 in 10 self-induced abortions result in complications. This includes excessive bleeding, fever, infection including pelvic inflammatory disease, increased risk of cervical cancer, damage to the uterus and high maternal mortality; also 21% of maternal deaths were due to post-abortion complications. A predominant feature of abortions is the woman's sole right to choose whether or not to abort. It is justified as her right to control fertility, decide whether and when to have children and an ability to control her life. Herein a man's annihilation and isolation seldom solidifies his indifference to the subject, defeatist as it looks

Save for defilement, under age and non consensual incest and rape, there is no justifiable reason why this decision should not be decided by both people involved especially as the consequence involves a child being given a chance to live or not. It is understandable that the woman will carry the baby in her body until conception; it is her body that will under go all the transformations associated with pregnancy and the associated pain at birth. Despite this, abortion would be better managed if it was a dual decision. Amazingly, if the woman chooses abortion and the man is against it, his opinion does not matter. However, if the man suggests it and she chooses to have the child; on conception, the man may have to maintain the kid through a portion of his earnings until maturity if the woman decides to enforce maintenance proceedings against him. Even if they reconcile, the issue will in several instances be brought up in a fall out and could be used to alienate the father from the child or in instances of custody. Where abortion is an option, a woman often has her way; whether or not it is in the interests of the child.

The truth of the matter is that most pregnancies can be avoided. They occur because either one or both people involved have been reckless with their contraception or none of it. To subject a potential baby to 'death' by abortion or deprive them of the chance to live because of a purported 'mistake' on the part of the undeserving parents is a selfishness that prevails in the world we live in now, where family values are no longer taken seriously. Contrary to the frequently referred to justifications for abortion like 'choice' and 'rights', people's motives are far from noble and border on self-preservation.

As Charles Carson propounds in 'Re-thinking abortion', the world is still pondering on when life begins for an unborn baby and science has revealed that brain waves can be detected at 5 weeks, before almost all abortions begin. We should also remove the focus on abortion being a woman's choice or the implications of a man's involvement emotionally, choice-wise, or divergently, with a view to compromise.

It was understatedly mentioned by Dr. Wanda Franz that at least 19% of women who abort go through post abortion stress syndrome. The figure is much bigger than this and the scary part is that the syndrome involves nightmares of the abortion, terrible psychological pain, feelings of worthlessness and victimization because the women feel they failed at the most natural of human activities, the role of being a mother.

The onus is on 2 pillars – anyone or anything that has a part to play in the child's life growing up has a responsibility. They say a child in Africa belongs to the community. What is the community doing? What has the church done? School etc….the church (catholic) shies away from abortion. Excuse my French…they need to come off their high horse and smell the coffee…this  ish is happening; these children need direction, don't give them the “holier than thou” talk, speak to them, listen to them; help them!! The same pillars (community) again need to check what they are telling this child and how they are telling them. Are we going to keep scaring our children or are we going to empower them? Our decision here has an effect on your children's children and the ones that follow….like the Chinese say “buy me fish and I will live through today…teach me how to fish and I will survive a life time”; It can be borrowed in this instance.

It is very hard in this era to reduce abortion rates where sex is marketed as something to be taken casually and abstinence is limited by governments easily advocating for protection through condoms and avoiding pregnancies through contraceptive pills among other avenues, which do not guarantee conclusive avoidance of pregnancy. Abstinence and sex in marriage is some thing rarely advocated for; and surely most abortions could have been avoided if emphasis on this was made paramount. Regardless of what the stakes are and whose decision it is to abort, it is time the right of the unborn child is at the forefront of any debate regarding abortion. I still contend that with any matters of reproduction, a man or woman's noble or selfish considerations should always be secondary and emphasis should always be the rights of the unborn child. But to accomplish this, the masses especially in the rural areas need to be educated on this. Ideas of 'unplanned or accidental' pregnancies should never be justifications for denying a potential child the right to life or put a woman through the trauma of post-abortion stress. Religious bodies should re-enforce family life in marriage. The Church plays its part, it is time for the government and high profile people to not only join them but also lead by example.

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