RIO DE JANEIRO – The A word, Abortion, there are few more emotionally charged issues in society today. It has been a divisive flash-point in the U.S., legal since the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision. Abortion is currently illegal in Brazil, except if the pregnancy puts the life of the woman in danger, or if the pregnancy is the result of a rape.
The punishment in Brazil for a woman who performs an abortion on herself, or consents to an abortion performed by another is based in one to three years of detention.
A 2007 poll found that 65 percent of Brazilians believe that their country’s current law “should not be modified”, sixteen percent that it should be expanded “to allow abortion in other cases”, ten percent that abortion should be “decriminalized”,… and five percent were “not sure”.
It is not a new concern fueled by modern sin, induced abortion can be traced to ancient times. Evidence to suggest that, historically, pregnancies were terminated through a number of methods, including the administration of mysterious herbs, the use of semi-sharpened implements, the application of abdominal pressure, and other crude techniques.
Abortion is a global issue (along with war, famine, and the destruction of our environment) involving the opposing “pro-life” and “pro-choice” worldwide social movements. Thankfully it seems, incidence of abortion has declined internationally, presumably because access to education and contraceptives has increased. The abortion incidence in the U.S. declined 8 percent from 1996 to 2003.
A 1998 report from 27 countries, on the reasons women seek to terminate their pregnancies are less sensationalistic then proponents would suggest. The report concluded that common factors cited: desire to delay or end childbearing, concern over the interruption of work or education, issues of financial or relationship stability, and perceived immaturity.
A key point to abortions is when they can occur, and in the U.S. it is determining when the fetus is “viable” outside the womb as a measure of when the “life” of the fetus is its own (and therefore subject to being protected by the state). Apparently this is placed at about seven months (28 weeks). In Europe, abortion is usually only allowed up to twelve weeks (eighteen weeks in Sweden, 21 weeks in the Netherlands, 24 weeks in Great Britain).
It strikes me odd that so many men have such strong feelings about it, as although it is a team effort, a woman’s role in the ordeal seems dramatically more involved. While there is a point in which an abortion is clearly more gruesome, and potentially immoral, in the early stages it seems a humane and socially beneficial option. But then again, I’ve never had one.