Abortion in the time of Drumpf

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Photo by lucia on Unsplash

Before there was Sex in the City, there was crime in the city. The streets of New York were a dangerous place in the 70’s and 80s. Muggings were routine and Crack was King. Car burglaries were extremely common, and signs everywhere warned you to look after your belongings, hold on to your handbags tight, be aware of your surroundings and walk with purpose. Almost everyone had been mugged at some point, and if you thought of taking the subway, you’d better have thought again. The subway was considered to be the most unsafe mass transit system on the planet, and had lost millions of travellers. It had turned into a huge, clanking mass of graffiti covered steel, thundering past at breakneck speed, few people in it.

Then something strange happened. The nineties saw a drop in crime so drastic, people were left scratching their heads trying to figure out what happened. Many attributed this decrease to the efficiency of the new mayor, others, to lengthier crime sentences – all possible factors. But they didn’t explain one thing. There were similar reductions of crime in other US cities, where no such measures had been put forth. Surely, there should have been a common link!

Steven D Levitt, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, put forth a startling theory in his book, Freakonomics. Abortion had been legalised in New York and in those other states that showed a similar decline in crime in 1970, two decades earlier, even before the Roe v Wade judgment (when the rest of the country followed suit) and the results were showing. Children who would have been inducted into a life of crime due to their circumstances, were, to put it simply, not born. There was a vast reduction of the population of criminals in their twenties – which was when their propensity towards violent crime coupled with drug usage was highest.

This theory did not sit well with anyone, least of all Professor Levitt, whose own opinions on abortion were ambivalent at best. People were much more comfortable believing that the police, aided by newer technologies and a smart mayor, were the true heroes of this story, and Rudy Giuliani went down in history as the man who cleaned up New York city.

Today, there is much turmoil in the United States as the country tries to come to terms with the possibility that Roe v Wade, the landmark judgement that legalised abortion, may be overturned. This fear is largely fuelled by the fact that vice president Mike Pence is a fervid pro-life supporter, and seems to have made curtailing women’s rights his mission. Talk about misogyny! What’s next? No family planning?

Laws preventing abortion claim to protect the rights of the foetus – but at the cost of the rights of the mother. Mothers terminate pregnancies because they don’t know what will become of the child once they give him up for adoption. Many feel it is easier to end a life in a womb, when it is unclear if the child is capable of thought or much feeling, and is not yet independently alive. Although it is possible that the foetus feels pain, depending on how advanced the pregnancy is, abortion is far more painful for the mother, (physically and emotionally) and more so in cases of late termination, where she would have to give birth and go through hours of intense labour pain. So this isn’t a decision taken lightly, and neither is it the ‘easy way out’ for mothers under any circumstances, as some tend to believe.

Here’s why abortion should always be legal:

  • The year 2014 saw over 600,000 abortions in the US. Over the decades, several millions of babies have been aborted. That’s several millions of unwanted children that would have added to the population – and population growth is nothing to scoff at. A safe method of terminating an unwanted pregnancy will benefit the mother, the family, and society at large.
  • Women without access to safe termination still attempt self-induced abortions. Over the years, women have undergone dangerous procedures in extremely unsafe conditions, and many have lost their lives, leaving behind devastated families.
  • Early nurturing is crucial to a child’s development, and if the mother is unable to provide proper care, it is better she does not bring her child into this world. She could then focus on her own life, and have a baby when she is better prepared, physically and mentally, is at peace with her decision, and is ready.
  • Abortions lead to reduced crime, lower population growth and less poverty.

As India moves forward with legalising homosexuality, lets hope America takes a lesson and doesn’t start marching backwards, for in the end, no one wants to go that way.

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