U.N. Wants Broader Abortion Rights
Poland under the eye of the world body.

I suppose that it is no surprise to anyone that the United Nations wants countries to adopt more permissive abortion laws. According to the Washington Times, the United Nations has "criticized Poland's strict abortion laws and called for greater efforts to protect women's rights. . . ." According to the Times, in an article entitled "U.N. criticizes Poland over abortion laws" Poland's laws presently permit a woman to have an abortion only when there is "serious fetal damage, the woman's life is in danger or she had been impregnated during a rape."

Jaime Ruiz de Santiago, a senior U.N. official in Poland, was quoted as saying the United Nations is concerned current legislation puts women's lives at risk by encouraging them to seek illegal abortions, sometimes from untrained practitioners.

The spectre of the "back alley abortion" has been the rallying cry for abortion rights advocates since the early days of the movement. Roe v. Wade, the ignominious U.S. Supreme Court case that pronounced abortion on demand to be a Constitutional right, focused on the right of women to recieve "safe" abortions.

"Roe alleged that she was unmarried and pregnant; that she wished to terminate her pregnancy by an abortion 'performed by a competent, licensed physician, under safe, clinical conditions'; that she was unable to get a 'legal' abortion in Texas because her life did not appear to be threatened by the continuation of her pregnancy; and that she could not afford to travel to another jurisdiction in order to secure a legal abortion under safe conditions." (Emphasis added.)

Certainly, it appears that part of the testimony that was given in the case concerned the "fact" that there were 10,000 to 20,000 deaths estimated to occur each year due to the "back alley abortion." Naturally, there is some evidence that this estimation is greatly overexagerated, and that the actual number was probably less than 50. (For information on this, see here. Regardless, today the fear of back alley abortions is one of the concerns that motivates some to criticize the present U.S. policy of refusing to fund abortions as part of oversea aide. See, for example, "US exports anti-abortion policy" from BBC News:

"I travelled to Ethiopia - a country where abortion is illegal but where a recent study at Addis Ababa hospital found half of all female deaths there were caused by botched back-street abortions. Here the cost of silence can be high.

"One of the most upsetting moments was standing outside a one-room tin hut where Asmara, a prostitute, had bled to death just hours earlier.

"Aged 22, she received condoms from the local Marie Stopes clinic. It closed when the US cut its cash after it failed to sign. She got pregnant and died.

"'She had no money to go to hospital, so became too weak to move, then she died,' her friend told me.

"On the other side of Addis Ababa is Molu, living with nine children in one room. She has been told one more baby will kill her.

"But the clinic that gives her the pill for free is shutting. There is no other clinic.

"Molu says if she gets pregnant again, she will carry out her own abortion with wire."

It is not my desire to belittle, in any way, the struggle of these women. I do not seek to minimize the dangers that they face from back-alley abortions. The concern is real, and while it may be exaggerated for political purposes, I do not doubt that some women are dying because they are so desperate for an abortion where none are legal, that they will risk their lives with illegal, coat-hanger abortions. The loss of these lives is incredible painful and we should seek to do what we can to avoid such deaths.

However, should our response to these deaths be the acceptance of abortion--a procedure that we also know inflicts death? Make no mistake about it, abortion results in a death--the death of the fetus/baby/embryo in the womb. I have discussed in my last blog the fact that the embryo is indisputably a living human being, and the term "fetus" is simply a term used for a more developed fetus. Thus, if the embryo is a living human being, then the fetus (which is actually a developing baby) is also indisputably a living human being, and the abortion does result in its death. Moreover, there is certainly no guarantee that an abortion will not result in the death of the mother even if it is done under proper medical conditions. I suspect, although I haven't seen much information on the topic, that the state of medical facilities available for abortion in third world countries are in the same tenuous state as the facilities available for other medical services. Consider the following from ENT Resources, Inc. (ENTRI), a for-profit subsidiary of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-- Head and Neck Surgery, Inc. (AAO-HNS):

"Medicine in developing countries certainly is a lot different than in the U.S. First of all, there is usually a shortage of physicians. Second, the resources spent on medical care may be only a few dollars per capita per year compared to the U.S. spending of thousands.

* * *

"2. Medical/hospital conditions will be much different. No ICU. Two patients to a bed. Beds that look like they are from the '20s. Large crowded wards. The smell of disinfectant.

3. Operating facilities - These facilities may be primitive or even makeshift on some trips. Anesthesia machines may be from the 1930s.

4. Schedules - Clinics and OR clinics may have overwhelming numbers, and you may have to decide who will and will not get surgery. It can be heartrending to turn down a pleading patient. The OR schedules may be unrealistic, or you may even consider them unfair."

You see, in developing countries, providing the opportunity for safe, medical care may not be available regardless. Thus, it seems as if the argument that providing abortion in developing countries would result in fewer deaths for women is, at minimum, problamatic. But even if medical facilities were sufficient to assure that no women pass on from the abortion procedure, there is simply no question that abortion results in the death of a living human being. Short of the very exceptions written into the Polish law, any abortion is, in and of itself, deeply immoral and ought to be prohibited.


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