I recently happened to watch the documentary ‘Lake of Fire’. This critically acclaimed documentary, made in two parts deals with the controversial topic of abortion, from the western (US to be specific) perspective. Now, had it been made from the Indian perspective, the reel would have been much nastier, I know. However, what struck me was, being a young, educated and claiming to be well-aware Indian, I found myself highly ignorant on the topic. Simply compare Abortions in India with Abortions in US and you’ll know I’m not totally at fault.
As I said, the documentary is in two parts-one from the perspective of pro-lifers and other explaining the point of view of pro-choicer. Growing up in India, I know the kind of horrors related to abortions. Unwed mothers killing themselves because of no access to abortions, married women being forced to abort because of a female foetus and so on. Hence I’ve never really been able to decide if I’m pro or anti abortion.
Now this documentary took my confusion to a whole new level. The documentary opens with the pro-lifers telling you how the abortion clinics are causing a holocaust, how women have become so selfish, how people supporting abortion will go to hell and burn in the lake of fire forever. The sights shown amidst all this are no less disturbing. When you see foetuses (some so well formed they look like a baby), you’ll be shaken to the core.
Although science or religion can still not prove whether killing the foetus is equivalent to killing a person, the first part left many other questions unanswered. Living in a country, where abortions are legal (abortions in India are legal since 1971), I had never heard about doctors getting killed for performing an abortion. Have a look at this: Anti-abortion violence. Now how on earth can that be justified (especially by people who support life)? I’m not supporting any group here, it is just the violence that got me questioning.
I always wondered why is it that people kill/abort an unborn child. I mean you can always give it to an orphanage, right? (Yes, a very naÃ¯ve thought) I know there’s a stigma attached to an unwed mother, but I thought western society (supposedly more modern than India and other eastern countries) would be more sensitive towards such women. However, it is easier said than done. How do you convince your family and friends, how do you face your classmates/workers everyday, how do you simply take a child that has grown inside you and dump it at the nearest orphanage.
In such a scenario, abortion does indeed look like the most logical and safe option. Safe I say, because a lot of these unwed mothers are teenage girls. Ones, whose bodies are not developed enough to bear a child. (Yes, I know most of our grandmothers got married in their teens but the truth was and still is that its unsafe to bear a child when you are so young) One might say-why did the girl do it in the first place? If she cannot take up the responsibility of a child, why indulge in such an activity?
Well, for one, the people asking such questions are usually the ones who are also against the use of birth control methods. If we put the responsibility of morality on just one gender, there will be imbalance and conflict. I can go on about how it is unfair that a man can get away with such acts while a woman is left to suffer, but I’m not playing a feminist here. A feminist might tend to get biased, something I don’t intend on being. Also, I’m in no way supporting/opposing pre-marital sex.
So, yes, coming back to question. All those women who get an abortion done are not the ‘immoral’ unwed mothers. There are also rape victims and married women who already have 2 or more children (yes, in today’s society it is difficult to raise 6 children with a good standard of living unless you are Angelina Jolie or some other celebrity). What do you do in such cases? Marry the victim off to the rapist? Afghan woman‘s choice. Well I’m not singling out a particular country or religion here. India is also a champion of sorts when it comes to marrying our women off to their attackers.
There is a reason behind why hangers are chosen as a symbol of protest by the pro-choicers. There was a law related to abortion that said that a doctor can legally abort a child only if there is a major threat to the life of the mother. Now some of these women, took the law in the literal sense of it and created a major threat to their lives Â (which led to death in many cases). These women used hangers and others such objects to scratch the inner walls of their uterus and came to the hospital with heavy bleeding. Now this fell very much under the definition of what the law stated and the doctors went forward with abortions. Horrid right? Well, not horrible enough according to some people. In fact, the reality that so many women die of unsafe abortions is still not being dealt with properly. If we vehemently support life, we also need to take into account the lives of these women.
There is simply no right way of looking at the problem. If you look at it from the pro-lifer’s view, you might think that we are indeed causing a holocaust (the violence however, is not justified). When seen from the pro-choice’s view, you might wonder why we as a society, are so harsh on women that we don’t even care about their lives. However, religion and science should be kept away from each other, if we want our thoughts to be rational. Religion, a set of rules of on how life should be, is essential for a society (I’m not talking about any particular religion here). Religion prevents the society from crumbling by instilling fear. Fear that prevents wrong, fear that prevents crimes. However, the harsh reality is that our society is not perfect. There are people (some very religious ones too), who steal, murder, rape, lie, cheat and so on. In such a world, it is difficult to come up with a solution that is agreeable to both parties. However, the solution is essential and needed urgently at that.