It is estimated almost half of pregnancies in Australia are unplanned . Unexpected pregnancies happen for various individual, social, economic and political reasons . The World Health Organisation (WHO) approximates one in three women in Australia will an abortion procedure in their life . Abortion data is only gathered by South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. However, South Australia is the only state to publish data and report findings annually. Abortion is a heavy topic which has the nation spilt into two groups; pro-life or pro-choice. Pro-life is in favour of the foetus and they believe that by killing the foetus it is equivalent to murder. Pro-choice is for abortion, as they believe that the woman has the choice to do what she wants with her body. This report will cover how religion deals with abortion and how it can clash with modern ethnicity, abortion safety, the repercussions of abortion and the social aspects of abortion.
Religious communities have had a convoluted history in regards to abortion. The Catholic Church of Australia states ‘the direct and voluntary killing of an unborn is gravely immoral. No reason, however serious and tragic, can ever justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being .’ Abortion is not explicitly forbidden within the Bible; as neither the Old nor New Testament condemns it. As a social norm, however, Catholic’s believe that life starts at conception via intercourse after marriage. If fornication results in pregnancy then the developing foetus is considered a person; and no one has the right to murder .
Judaism, contrasting Catholic, does not consider a human being until ‘a majority of body parts have emerged from the mother and that life begins when the baby takes breathe through the nostrils.’ Following the first forty days of conception, the foetus is considered fluid yet aborting it without psychiatric reasoning is condemned from the perspective of Jewish leaders. Rabbinic authorities, in addition, permit abortion not only if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life but if her psychological health suffers as a result of pregnancy.
Islam, like the previous two, consider abortion as a taboo but they permit abortion in dire situations. Islamic law consents abortion if the mother’s life is endangered due to medical complications. Though abortion is permitted, Islamism’s regard termination as wrong; the further the pregnancy the greater the wrong. Whilst the Qur’an doesn’t explicitly refer to abortion it offers guidance on related matters; scholars apply this guidance to abortion. ‘Whosoever has spared the life of a soul, it is as though he has spared the life of all people. Whosoever has killed a soul, it is as though he has murdered all of mankind.’
Although religious leaders condemn abortion, the woman’s life is prioritized over the unborn foetus. In 2015 if a women has an abortion she will not be ostracized by her religious community unlike the previous years; but she will still receive judgement from the God she worships. Biblical principles are not likely to change, however with increasing campaigns for women rights groups, religious leaders are becoming more liberal.
Abortion procedures in Australia vary depending on the development and size of the foetus and risk of complication to the mother. Termination of pregnancy can either be done surgically or medically. However 5.7% of women who have undergone a medical abortion required hospital admission due to complications contrasting 0.4% of women who underwent surgery.
Medical abortions include ‘The Morning-After Pill’ and RU-486. The morning-after pill prevents ovulation after unprotected intercourse via wallowing a pill; which can be taken up to five days after intercourse. Side effects of the morning after pill include bleeding, nausea and vomiting. RU486 is a combination of two drugs given up to nine weeks gestation to terminate pregnancy. Side effects of RU486 are abnormal vaginal bleeding after treatment, diarrhoea and cramps. Approximately medical abortions have infections rate of 1 in 480 women compared to 1 in 1500 for surgical operations.
Surgical abortions include the suction curettage and dilation and evacuation; during both procedures women are given light anaesthetic. Suction curettage is advised during 7 to 12 weeks of pregnancy . The cervix is dilated with a series of rods of progressively larger sizes being inserted. A tube with suction is then inserted into the uterus, and the foetus and placenta are suctioned out. The lining of the uterus is then scraped to ensure all the contents have been removed. Dilation and evacuation is used for pregnancies greater than 12 weeks but up to 16 weeks. This method requires the use of vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage and the use of surgical instruments, including forceps, to remove the foetus in pieces. Risk of severe bleeding is 1 in 200 for medical abortion compared to 1 in 3000 for surgical abortion.
Although rare, failure of abortion is a complication of the procedure. Children conceived after a failed abortion may have limb abnormalities or other congenital problems. Medical abortions have higher failure rates than surgical due to non-measured drug dosages that ‘ensure the foetus is stillborn.’
Pregnancy terminations are viewed as a melancholy health concern but research suggests that there are rarely permanent negative consequences for women who choose pregnancy termination. The research indicates after an informed decision and having received support from their partner, relatives and healthcare professional, women have had a positive abortion.
Realistically women who remove their foetus via surgery or medicine can suffer permanent trauma. South Australian reports specify women have had sense of loss after the procedure; ‘the guilt never ceases, no matter how many years pass by.’ Psychosomatic disturbances post termination are expected to occur if the woman felt coerced into having the procedure, if it conflicts her beliefs or she suffers from psychological illness prior to the procedure.
Although abortions performed in Australia are safe, it is possible for the procedure to fail to eradicate all the contents of the uterus. Failure in removal can result in prolonged, heavy bleeding and may require a curette to be undertaken. Permanent scaring are constant reminders of the procedure, with some women expressing that ‘their haunted by the procedure every time they look in the mirror.’ Theoretically 1 in 500 women develop scar tissue at the opening of the uterus. Majority of cases, this can be treated, but in rare cases this can lead to extensive scarring and lead to untreatable infertility.
Therapist’s note that women who have had abortions display self-destructive behaviours; attempted suicide, suicide, mutilation, drug abuse and/or eating disorders. Patients have described it as ‘a way of denying their guilt. As it helps numb my pain. Post operation women may find that bonding with their future children of their pregnancies and will have a higher chance of becoming abusive parents; which leads to the pattern of abuse-abortion-abuse. Negative behavioural outcomes post abortion still occur years after the abortion.
Statistically 100,000 pregnancy terminations are performed yearly in Australia – more than one for every three births. Less than 2% of terminations are foetal abnormality instead for social and economic motives.
Legally men have no rights in the decision of aborting the child he has helped conceive, which more often than not leads to bitterness at their legal disenfranchisement. Post abortion self-defeating behavioural patterns are seen in some men; including alcohol, drug and sex abuse. Unmarried relationships can be spilt after an abortion and future fatherhood can result in an abusive cycle . Compared to women, there are few therapy groups in which men can express feelings of ambivalence, powerlessness and grief over their unborn child in a closed environment.
Women’s martial partner or platonic relationships can be affected by abortion. After abortion, many relationships come to an end, and if the woman stays with her partner or husband, sexual dysfunction often results difficulty bonding with children born later on. When a woman or adolescent girl has been coerced into having an abortion, typical reactions include feelings of betrayal, anger, depression, sadness and breakdown of trust and intimacy in relationships. Some men are negatively affected and sense a loss of control and pride, especially when their partner has had an abortion without their being consulted. “Suppressed mourning” has negative outcomes, often leading to feelings of numbness, hostility, anger and difficulties in forming future relationships and bonding with later-born children; in some instances, post-abortion trauma can lead to abuse of later children. Already-born children are affected by the abortion of a sibling, often demonstrating feelings of sadness, fear, confusion and anxiety; parent-child trust is damaged.
Society believes that abortion has a measurable effect however evidence points that abortion doesn’t have an effect on society; but the women undertaking the procedure. As previously mentioned, abortion happens for numerous reasons if society were to ignore the plead to legalise abortion more women will be subjected to illegal abortion; and may end up losing their life.