Red and Starry Eyed | Issue 2

On Abortion

Every now and then, at the entrance to the hospital, one can still be harassed by people wearing anti-abortion sandwich boards adorned with gory photos. Funnily enough, most of these ‘protesters’ are men. Abortion debates in New Zealand are nothing compared to those in the US or other deeply religious countries. We were, after all, the first country to give women suffrage. 90% of the time, according to some estimates, men are involved in the choice to abort. However, the right to terminate pregnancy is foremost a woman’s right, and rightly so.

University aged women have the highest abortion rates in New Zealand – hardly surprising as students are often in short-term relationships, in bad housing, stressed and studying. If we want to continue seeing the numbers of women enrolling at uni rise, abortion should be kept legal and easily accessible.

It is true that couples should only use contraception to prevent accidental pregnancies from becoming accidental children. A child could break up a relationship, or drive a poor couple into the depths of poverty. Judith Jarvis Tomson argues pregnancy is a bit like having a famous violinist attached to your system for nine months. Though this child may have great potential, his right to live should not mean the use of somebody else’s body. Forcing this woman to keep the child alive deprives her of her own choice. The reality is that prior to a child being born, the parents, and to a more exclusive extent the mother, have the right to decide what the realistic opportunity is of that child having a decent quality of life.

Studies have found that crime tends to decline years after abortion is made legal. Imagine gaggles of children being raised among the beer-drinking, bottle-throwing and couch-burning of Castle Street, and it’s pretty clear why this is. Obviously kids born into caring families with good levels of income will end up having better opportunities than those who cannot be looked after.

Abortion should not be up to white, middle-aged men, those who make the majority of choices in the courts and in parliaments, or who protest outside clinics and hosptials. Instead it should be a personal choice, one a woman can take or leave. As long as it’s there, women are free to choose.
This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2012.
Posted 4:53pm Sunday 4th March 2012 by Red and Starry Eyed.