Recently an opinion article that strongly advocated for the decriminalization of abortion was written by Dr Gabrielle Hosein and published in the TT Newsday. Whilst Hosein’s points may seem sequential and even logical, I would like to offer more insight that should perhaps be considered in relation to her piece. Her article stated that abortion should be decriminalized because firstly, women have had abortions illegally in the past, secondly, because it is being discussed in Jamaica, and thirdly because aborting a baby before it has arrived at 12 weeks in the womb is not murder. All of these points are what she sees as clear reasons for decriminalizing abortion and showing solidarity to both families and women.
Apparently it is happening. So make it legal…
Hosein’s first point comes in the first sentence of her piece and it sets the tone for her argumentation.
“There are women in every neighbourhood in TT who have terminated a pregnancy at least once… our support to current efforts to decriminalise abortion… should be clear.”Hosein stated
Besides offering no evidence to back up such a profound claim, she uses a logic that is oversimplified and for the most part, flawed. It is not true that because an illegal action is done by some it should now be made legal so as to prevent persons from facing criminal charges. We can see the madness of this style of argumentation if we apply it to anything else. For example, Atiya Haynes, a Trini woman, was brutally gunned down in a drive-by over the Easter weekend. What should be done about this illegal act? Should we beg for the murder’s work to be made legal in order to prevent him from facing the discrimination of a prison cell? I think not.
Now, I am not trying to compare women who are in a stressful situation to a gunman. What I am trying to point out is the way in which we should make judgements on matters pertaining to the law. We cannot claim that because a criminal act is done it is good, our duty should instead be to prove that it is not criminal.
Renouncing Trinidad & Tobago
Hosein takes this style of argumentation further saying that because Jamaica has decided to discuss the possibility of decriminalizing abortion TT should follow suit. Again, this all sounds well and good, but only when it comes to abortion. If you try using this method of persuasion on Trini’s for any other policy they will easily expose it for what it is: nonsense. If Jamaica decides, for example, to legalize child pornography should TT follow suit? Nope. Since when does Jamaica dictate the moral law and code of ethics for TT?
I am not saying that paedophiles are the same as baby-aborters, in fact, the difference between them is radical enough, one seeing children as sex toys the other as mere cells, worth nothing more than a fruit. The essential point here is that we are not a colonial outpost of Jamaica or of any other country. Only our words can and should bind us to action, to do anything based purely on another nation is to renounce our own, it is a spit in the face to independence and Trini thought.
From conception the embryo is a human.
Lastly, the biggest point made by Hosein is that terminating a baby under 12-weeks-old inside the womb is not murder. However, because human life begins at conception and not after 12 weeks this statement must be critiqued at full.
“In human reproduction, when sperm joins ovum, these two individual cells cease to be, and their union generates a new and distinct organism.”Words of Dr Robert George
Every human is an organism that is developing and as the Langman Medical Embryology text states
the “development of a human being begins with fertilization[conception], a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism[human], the zygote.”
So much for the under 12 week nonsense…
At conception all the human’s chromosomes are present and the new human life has a different DNA to any other human being that there is on earth. Therefore, a human is a human before 12 weeks and that is why, for people like Hosein, it must be killed. If it were merely cells it could be left alone and nothing would ever happen, but because it is a living and growing being Hosein is advocating for the intervention.
Hosein not only failed to mention basic biological facts such as those mentioned above, but she went on to state that a baby up to 12 weeks after conception has organs that are not functional.
“Aborting an embryo up to 12 weeks is not murdering a baby”Hosein stated
This is perhaps the biggest blunder because only 22 days after conception a baby inside the womb has its own heart which pumps its own blood which is often a completely different blood type to the mother. At week 6 of the pregnancy, the baby has detectable brain waves. At week 7, the baby is able to move on its own. By week 8 fingerprints are forming. Between week 9 and 10, the baby can turn its head. By week 10 and 11, the baby can urinate. By week 12 the baby has all the necessary parts to experiences pain, all the nerves are formed and are active.
“At 12 weeks, a fetus… is not able to function fully independently outside the womb until 23 weeks. “Hosein claims
Using this logic Hosein forgets that the entire human race is interdependent. Man cannot survive if he is separated from his kind, hence the two are joined, forming and completing each other giving birth to the word mankind. This is precisely what happens in human reproduction. Children rely on their parents and especially their mother long after they are born. Using Hosein’s logic we should “terminate” all children under the age of 10, 11, 12 and maybe even older! After all, it is quite obvious that no one has ever seen a 10-year-old boy or girl survive on his/her own. The point that a human isn’t a human because they depend on someone else is just grotesque. I honestly believe that the most beautiful thing about the human is the need he/she has for unity, hence the two (the human and unity) are somewhat one and only then do we have humanity in the full sense of the word. Therefore to abort is to say no not only to man but to all mankind. To abort is to say no not only to an unborn human but to all humanity. This is because if you can kill unborn babies with this logic, you might as well kill anyone else who you consider to be a humbug.
Support for abortion is not support for women or for Families.
That all of this can be completely ignored is beyond me. But what is even more out of my reach is that Hosein ends with a claim that by supporting abortion she is supporting families and women. This is impossible since according to the United Nations population fund in 2010, the world is “missing women”. This is because the majority of abortions performed worldwide are on female children. Also, it is impossible to claim that abortion somehow helps families because worldwide abortions numbers are highest amongst broken homes/single women. Coupled with that abortion itself is the act of killing the very thing that makes a family a family: The Child.
Trinidad must take all of these things (and more) into consideration when discussing the decriminalization of abortion. Abortion should not be normalized because it might be currently happening in an illegal fashion, nor should it become accepted because another nation like Jamaica may accept it. Also, it must be clearly stated to the public that if TT does ever decriminalize abortion, we are decriminalizing murder since at conception a child with a unique DNA (different to both mother and father) is brought into being.