February 12, 2016 By: A. Boyzie Kamara Esq.
On the 8th of December 2015, the Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone passed the Private Members’ Motion entitled: “The Safe Abortion Bill 2015”. The Bill inter alia, purports to prevent maternal death and injury safeguard reproductive rights and determine the circumstances and conditions under which pregnancies may be terminated. The Bill was subsequently sent to the President to append his assent to complete its legislative evolution. However, following fevered concerns chiefly raised by the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone, the President referred the bill back to Parliament, urging them to make ‘more consultations’.
It must be noted that under the circumstances, Parliament is given the authority by section 106(8) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No 6 o f 1991 to proceed and make it become law if not less than two- thirds of the Members so vote.
Since then I’ve listened to the differing voices on why the bill is good for Sierra Leone and why it should be passed. But in my estimation, there are very crucial issues revolving around this proposed law, which I think its promoters are refusing to tell the populace. I attempt to look at these issues in the subsequent headings.
1. FORGOTTEN FATHERS
After a careful perusal of the Bill, I noticed that not even an iota of consideration is given to the father of the foetus. Section 2(1) of the Bill worryingly says that during the first twelve weeks of gestation, any woman may have access to abortion services.
This in essence means that any woman (whether married or not) reserves the right to go to any clinic and access abortion services. No thought is given to any objection that may be raised by the husband/father or any other person! Neither is any thought directed to the status of the relationship with the other spouse in post abortion when the father’s consent was sent on vacation.
Studies in countries that have legalised abortions indicate that serious social problems emerge and many relationships broke down because of this. For instance, in a study of 100 women carried out by the Mount Sanai School of Medicine in the USA (75 of the women were married or in a committed relationship), 46% agreed that abortion posed a major crisis in their lives, which was followed by an unstable marital or social relationship. Other studies put the rate of relationships breakdown as high as 70% in the first twelve months following the abortion.
Removing the issue of the father’s consent in deciding the fate of his child in such a law makes the men feel powerless. Men have been accorded no legal rights when it comes to abortion. And studies have shown that most men silently grieve the loss of their children to abortion and some go into depression.
The tendency is very much alive also that in a society like ours, such a law could lead to exploitation by some men who no longer want the responsibility of providing for their children. Methinks an abortion law that removes all say from the man is not a safe law.
2- THE FOETUS IS A LIVING BEING
In order to justify their points of view, abortion apologetics have argued, passionately that the foetus has no life, legally speaking. But an issue that deals with the next generation of humans cannot be relegated to legality. It’s a biological issue. Life does not begin all of a sudden at birth. It’s a process that culminates into the birthing. Any biologist in the world can tell you that a mammal’s life begins when the sperm from the father unites with that of the mother. This process is called fertilization. When the DNA from the father combines, the egg is called a fertilized egg or zygote. The zygote splits, it forms the embryo. This embryo is the youngest form of being. When this being is nourished, and protected, it proceeds through uninterrupted stages of embryo, foetus, newborn, toddler, child, teen adult and aged adult-one continuous existence! This being never develops into a tree or a pig, but only into a human being. This ‘Being’, I submit, is a human being. Hence the foetus is a living being.
But pro-abortionists are so willing to perpetuate the myth that the foetus is not a living being in order to safely continue the holocaust of abortion.
SO CALLED UNSAFE ABORTIONS DO NOT THRIVE BECAUSE ABORTION IS ILLEGAL
Those who support the new Bill argue that people go to quacks for abortion because section 58 of the Offences Against the Persons Act of 1861 makes abortion a crime in the country. But that is simply not true and anyone who knows our society will not fail to understand that.
The ugly truth is that those who go quacks for abortion predominantly do so because of the preponderance of poverty. Quacks offer cheap abortion services and the poor are lured by that less cost. They don’t go to quacks for fear of being prosecuted, they go there because they are less costly, it is that simple! Hence the too many fatal abortions.
I can only support abortion where the life of the mother is at grave risk and where the pregnancy is the result of a grossly incestuous intercourse. Any serious safe abortion law that genuinely seeks to help women should first establish a trust fund from which pregnant women who fall into the above categories could be provided for to undergo abortion services under the supervision of the most qualified. But nothing of such nature is even remotely mentioned in the Bill. Alas!
3- THERE IS NO SAFE ABORTION
There is never a safe abortion anywhere. Each time a woman elects to go for an abortion, she exposes herself to very many risks. Medical experts say every woman that goes for an abortion must be aware of the following risks:
* Heavy or persistent bleeding
* Infection or Sepsis
* Damage to the Cervix
* Scarring of the uterine linning
* Perforation of the Uterus
* Damage to the other organs
No safe abortion exists anywhere in the world and the title of the Bill is as misleading as it is uncertain.
4- LEGALIZED ABORTION IS BAD FOR THE SOCIETY
Studies conducted in countries with pro-abortion laws have revealed quite worrying impact in the society. In New Zealand, studies show that rather than leading to fewer victims of sexual abuse, the numbers are on the rise and the said legalization has served as a slippery slope towards the acceptance of infanticide and euthanasia.
Accordingly to Dr Philip G. Ney, head of the Department of Psychiatry at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Canada, the link between abortion legalization and child abuse is direct! He puts the link thus:
~Abortion decreases an individual’s instinctual restraint against the occasional rage felt towards those dependent on him or her
~Permissive abortion diminishes the taboo against aggressing the defenceless
~Abortion increases the hostility between the generations
~Abortion has devalued children, thus diminishing the value for children
~Abortion increases guilt and self hatred which the parents take out on the child.
In South African, since the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act No 92 of 1996 came into force, Statistics show that the country has aborted 2-4% of its population. There is more than one abortion committed every ten minutes. And the last research done by the Human Research Council of South Africa reveals that 91% of the people of that country believe abortion is wrong.
So it goes without saying that in a country like ours with a population size of about 6 million largely uneducated, abortion can only do worse.
5- NOT ALL WOMEN SUPPORT THE ABORTION BILL
Women’s groups have forcibly argued that this bill is for all women and whosoever does not support it does not support the cause of women’s emancipation. This position is as porous as an old thatch roof. “Da pwel belleh law” was how an old lady whom I once gave a ride referred to the law. For her, those who are promoting the bill are promoting reckless sexual behaviour and unsafe sex by extension. She believes the best alternative is to promote the use of contraceptives and sex education. Similar sentiments have been expressed by most women I’ve spoken with.
And I cannot agree more with them.
It is also good to point out that speaking against the abortion bill is NOT anti-women. This writer pays great reverence to any cause that genuinely seeks the welfare of women so long as it promotes humanity in the same vein.
Abortion is bad in all its forms, ramifications. This writer believes that our society is ill-prepared for such a law now and it’s proper that all the ills associated with the practice are exhibited and properly assessed. Humanity and our society must be preserved at all cost.
©Alpha Boyzie Kamara Esq. is a Sierra Leonean Barrister resident in Freetown