Many countries worldwide currently have a law that permits the practice of voluntary abortion.
An abortion policy is often considered a sign of civilization and progress. It is perceived as a form of women’s health protection and freedom. Unlike in the US, the public debate on this topic seemed to be at a halt. Nevertheless there are many voices in disagreement with this way of framing the issue. Some figures in the public arena have managed to revive the debate with a fresh outlook, defeating clichés with new ideas and new data.
The question of introducing a law that permits the voluntary interruption of a pregnancy is currently being debated in Chile. Meanwhile, the research groupIdeapaís ( Idea-Country) carried out a detailed study on complicated pregnancies in Chile titled, “Vulnerable Pregnancy: Reality and Proposals”. The key to the study is that at its center is the woman, with her problems, suffering, and needs. The researchers followed an empirical scientific method: by comparing data gathered regarding the concrete reality in Chile to data regarding other countries, they drew conclusions and launched a proposal based on the results.
The specific goals of this study are the following:
a) Identify the factors that make a pregnancy at risk.
b) Collect and provide data on the motivations that lead to considering abortion as a possible solution.
c) Present the consequences of abortion for the life of the woman and society.
d) Advance proposals that serve to help legislators take more appropriate measures in order to give effective support to those who find themselves in a complicated maternity.
The maternal mortality rate is paradoxically higher in countries with legalized abortion
If the reason for wanting to legalize the voluntary interruption of pregnancies were the protection of the mother’s health, then you would not want to introduce abortion in Chile. As the research reveals, the current legislation already permits therapeutic abortion to save the mother’s life. If however, legal abortions were to be introduced because women die from clandestine abortions, then Chile would be excluded from this problem. Researchers found that the maternal mortality rate in Chile is quite low, and the cause is primarily linked to spontaneous abortions or other types of complications that occur during gestation.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), the majority of maternal births caused by abortions occur in developing countries, such as sub-Saharan Africa or Asia Minor.
In Chile, only one in four million woman of fertile age die during pregnancy; and these do not happen due to complications of an induced pregnancy. Chile does not have a law that permits abortion, but it is one of the countries with the lowest maternity mortality rate in the world. The leader is America, surpassed only by Canada, where there is a greater development the medical field.
According to the data, lowering the mortality rate does not go hand in hand with the introduction of a law on abortion; it is linked to the development of health and education.
Education of Affectivity: A Remedy for Premature Pregnancies
There are certainly other factors that put a pregnancy at risk, such a maternity at an early age. If the state, however, wants to intervene to resolve the problem, it ought to come to terms with reality. Motherhood at an early age is closely connected with premature and irresponsible sexual activity (50% of adolescents in Chile are sexually active). On the national level, the attention in placed on an educational problem of affectivity. Consideration must be given to suitable programs that allow youth to understand what is involved in a sexual life. Abortion therefore, cannot be the most satisfactory solution in this regard.
Woman do not “want” abortion, they want support
The results of the study show that the majority of women considering abortion change their minds and decide not to abort the child, if they receive support and accompaniment for their pregnancy.
For example, thanks to the foundation United Chile , dedicated to providing support for women in difficult pregnancies, 85% of the women considering abortion decide to keep their baby. Veronica Hoffman, Executive Director of the foundation, says to this point, “We found that no woman wants to abort. The child isn’t their problem, rather the circumstances they must face.”
Furthermore, the research evidenced that most women just want to be accompanied until the end of pregnancy, since the possibility of adoption exists. There would then be a need, on the legislative level, to evaluate how to accelerate and improve the adoption process.
Sexual Violence and Abortion
The researchers of the study affirm that sexual abuse is undoubtedly a social wound and drama for the victims. There are grave consequences for the life of the women who are victims, especially at the psychological level (regardless of pregnancy).
The research shows that in Chile, abuse is among the last causes for which a woman with an undesired pregnancy considers abortion (around 2% of the cases). The other 98% of women who consider abortion do so for lack of emotional support or lack of trust, due to various pressures (i.e. economic problems, believing a child will hamper their personal growth, fear of parents or companion, fear of remaining alone).
The data reported in the study reveal that out of 3,134 women who live an unplanned pregnancy, 486 are at an elevated risk of abortion, while 2648 women are at a lower risk of abortion. Among the pregnancies most at risk, abortion is imposed by one or both parents in 44% of the cases. For the pregnancies at a lower risk of abortion, 40% of women who consider abortion do so because they lack psychological support.
Presenting abortion as a solution to sexual violence means failure to consider the problem in its entirety and complexity, besides hiding the evil that leaves deep, concealed, and unimaginable scars in victims. To confront the problem of violence, it is necessary to consider support and recovery programs that are focused on the person and far more socially effective; programs that do not offer a law that permits the interruption of the pregnancy as the principle remedy to the abuse.
The harmfulness of abortion to the health of the mother
A very interesting element reported by the researchers- and perhaps considered little in the public debate- is that abortion provokes a series of physical and psychological damages in the woman. A 2010 study, cited by the researchers, concluded that induced abortion predisposes the woman not only to a greater risk of contracting cancer, but also ASD (Acute Stress Disorder) and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Of the women who have abortions, 53% are affected by ASD, and 32% suffer PTSD. What prevails in these women is a sense of guilt, irritability, shame, and self-hatred.
We offer just a few points of reflection here. The full report on the research at the basis of this article is very accurate and exhaustive, thanks to the intelligent use of graphics and tables. It is also publically available on the Ideapaís website. However, we would like to leave our readers with the doubt that we have: is abortion truly the only possible remedy to confront problems related to pregnancies at risk, or is it rather the only option we have been offered by public pressure?