I am basically pro-life, but there are caveats and I respect other opinions. Anytime the word “abortion” (voluntary termination of pregnancy, as opposed to spontaneous miscarriage) is mentioned, it is always fiercely debated. Therefore, there is no common consensus anywhere and each case is individualised and treated in the best interests of everyone involved, most especially, the woman. Attempts have been made to place all the power solely on the woman because, afterall, it’s her body and she can choose whatever she wants to go in and out of it.
There is also the other extreme school of thought which does not allow any form of abortion, even when there are obvious threats to the life and wellbeing of the woman, the unborn child, any existing child(ren) and/or the entire family. However, medical practitioners have been given much privilege to examine certain criteria and offer thorough counselling to women before a decision is made. Doctors can also refuse to perform the procedure if they don’t feel comfortable with it, and then optionally, refer the patient elsewhere.
In developed countries (eg. UK), well structured abortion services have been put in place and abortion act has been passed into law. This has helped to reduce the incidence of criminal and unsafe practices to an undetectable level. Notwithstanding, it is unacceptable to perform abortion after the age of viability (28weeks gestational age in Nigeria), or for flimsy excuses and capricious interpretation of the laws and criteria. Unfortunately, developing countries such as ours continue to struggle with severe morbidity and mortality due to unsafe abortion. Clearly, ignorance, poverty and poor access to health education and other health care services are the main culprits here.
This article will not be complete if I do not mention the Islamic perspective of this issue. It is believed that every soul is sacred; from the point of fertilisation till the point of death, and beyond. In a popular authentic Hadith, it is stated that the Angel of life breathes into the foetus on the 120th day after fertilisation. This is when the foetus is declared a living human. Abortion is permissible before this event if, and only if, a reliable muslim doctor is able to certify that she meets any of the criteria stated in the books.
Despite all the controversies that can arise from this topical issue, I’m sure we can all agree that every pregnancy and, indeed, every child deserves to be loved. It is rather unfair to label any child as unwanted, unplanned or a total mistake. What looks like a mistake today might end up becoming the best decision ever made. Those who want to abort without medical justification should pause and ask themselves: “Can’t this pregnancy be continued? Can’t I develop love for the child even if I hate him now? Can’t I consider other options such as foster care and adoption?”