Abortion Rogerian Argument
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In Costa Rica women are not able to choose whether to have an abortion or not, since this procedure is allowed only in order to preserve the life or physical health of the woman and it has to be ordered by a court. Abortions are illegal in almost all cases, including when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest and when the fetus suffers from medical problems or birth defects. (Abortion in Costa Rica) and people can go to jail because of having an abortion or assisting someone if the procedure has not been approved under the above mentioned circumstances. Even though there are pro-life and pro-choice groups in Costa Rica, the discussion is not focused on the base of Human Rights. In this paper I want to state that abortion must be legalized in Costa Rica because by opposing to it, the government is violating the human right to equal medical treatment for all women and these women have to turn to illegal practices that put their health at risk.
Key words: human rights, abortion laws in Costa Rica, pro-choice, pro-life. Legalization of Abortion in Costa Rica: Pro-Choice Or Pro-Life?
In a religious country like Costa Rica, abortion rights are restricted to cases where the mother´s life is in danger (Abortion Laws, Women on Waves), but rape victims are not considered to have this right, even if that mother is almost a baby herself and her life may be in danger due to this pregnancy. Under Costa Rican laws induced abortion has been included in the crimes against life since 1970, and if a doctor suspects that a woman has had an abortion he or she is required to report it to the authorities, otherwise they can also face criminal charges. Punishment varies depending on whether the woman consented or not to the procedure or if the fetus is six months’ gestation at the time.
This is a very emotional subject that leads to passionate and controversial arguments amongst the Costa Rican society and people´s opinion on the matter is divided into two groups: pro-choice or pro-life. Proponents of legalizing abortion, or Pro-Choice, claim that women have the right to choose whether to have an abortion or not and that this decision cannot be limited by governmental or religious authorities; that their right prevails over any right claimed for the fetus; and that if this option is denied through legal channels, they will find someone to help them with the procedure even if it is not always safe. Some Pro-choice groups promote unrestricted access to abortion services under any circumstance and paid by the government, while others propose that abortion should only be used as a last resort but nevertheless, not criminalized. On the other hand, those who oppose legalization of abortion and identify themselves as Pro-life, argue that life begins at conception, that the fetus suffers during the abortion and therefore it should be considered as a crime because it is the same as murdering an innocent human being.
Pro-Life supporters sustain that woman do not have the right to terminate a potential life because it places the life of the mother over that of the fetus who cannot defended his or herself. The main argument for Pro-life supporters concerns the question: when does life begin? Science has been struggling with this notion and consider that the fertile egg has the potential for life but it is not yet a human being, nevertheless Pro-life supporters consider that life begins at conception, before implantation of the fertile egg in the uterus. This is an argument of moral or religious belief which cannot be rebutted with scientific facts since their position is based on the Bible or on any other religious book.
There are also those who consider abortion a crime because it is killing a human being, which is against the law regardless of any religious belief, and they argue that it is unfair to allow abortion when there are many couples who are willing to adopt these children. And last but not least, there is also the economic issue regarding abortions paid by the government with money from taxes collected from everyone: they claim that this is unfair and it represents and inequity towards those citizens who contribute with their taxes but do not agree with this measure. Even though their position is to oppose abortion in general, in some countries the Pro-Life groups have allowed the abortions laws to consider situations of rape, incest, or when a woman’s life is at risk.
If we want to live in a fair and equal society everyone should have the same right to health protection and care and the law should not punish a person for ending an unwanted pregnancy or the people who help her. Legalizing abortion is a matter of Human Rights, if we consider all humans to have the Right to Health and Health Care, a right which is violated when women are arbitrarily denied an abortion. It is also a matter that concerns the Right to Privacy, since a pregnant woman’s right to privacy should entitle her to decide whether or not to undergo an abortion. If a woman can decide to carry a child in her womb, give birth and raise this child or give it for adoption, she should also have the right to decide not to continue with a pregnancy. There are many reasons why a woman may decide to terminate with a pregnancy and they can be informed to the physician who will perform the procedure, but the decision cannot be restricted by any court or threatened with criminal charges upon her or the people involved.
Furthermore, in order to offer equal opportunities for all, if the economic situation of the person doesn´t allowed it the government should provide it for free. There is also a violation to the Rights to nondiscrimination and equality, since abortion is a medical procedure that only women need. Deciding to have an abortion is a very personal matter that should concern only the woman who is carrying the child. It is also the women who should have the first saying regarding abortion rights, men should be excluded from the final decision because it is not their body suffering the consequences of a pregnancy or of an abortion; they should remain as observers and give their opinion but not have the power to prevent it.
Even though I can understand the Pro-Life position that having legal abortion rights is not a matter of using this right to get pregnant and end it every time you feel like it, I believe and strongly support the Pro-Choice position, which in Costa Rica is represented by the Colectiva Por el Derecho a Decidir (CPDD that it is a matter of Human Rights and it should be the decision of women alone. A reasonable use of this right and prevention of unwanted pregnancies can be achieved through education. A solid campaign on values and sexual education will prevent many unwanted pregnancies from teenagers; it may also help prevent sexual assaults and reduce chauvinism. Nevertheless, this will only help with one side of the problem. There will always be a situation in which a pregnancy may represent a life problem and regardless of her age, a woman should be allowed to decide what to do without going to jail because of her decision, or putting other people at risk because they helped her. In our country, the debate on whether abortion should be legal, not criminalized and paid by the social security as any other medical service, is controversial and must be addressed timely in order to prevent more deaths and to provide all citizens with the same rights.
Abortion in Costa Rica. (2014, October 19). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_Costa_Rica Abortion law Costa Rica. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from http://www.womenonwaves.org/en/page/4913/abortion-law-costa-rica Abortion ProCon.org. (2014, June 27). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from http://abortion.procon.org/ Costa Rica Country Program. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/planned-parenthood-global/costa-rica-country-program Human Rights Watch | Q&A: Human Rights Law and Access to Abortion. (2005, June 30). Retrieved November 22, 2014, from http://www.hrw.org/ Steven, E. (2008, September 23). Costa Rica Report Indicates Number of Illegal Abortions Supposedly Rising. Retrieved November 13, 2014, from http://www.lifenews.com/2008/09/23/int-930/