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HomelawNavigating the Legal and Religious Dimensions of Abortion

Navigating the Legal and Religious Dimensions of Abortion

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Mwine Andrew

This article delves into the fragile relationship between the legal and religious connotations attached to abortion.

Abortion is defined as the deliberate steps that are taken to end a pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Abortion is a common health intervention. It is safe when carried out using a method recommended by WHO, appropriate to the pregnancy duration and someone with the necessary skills.

World Health Organization defines abortion as the expulsion or extraction from its mother of a fetus or embryo weighing less than 500 grams or more. This simply means that when a mother extracts a fetus or embryo that is above 500 grams, then it is said that there was no abortion.

According to the Legal Dictionary, abortion is the termination of pregnancy by various means, including medical surgery, before the fetus is able to sustain independent life.

The Supreme Court, in the case of Roe v Wade (1973) held that a woman had the right to choose abortion to end a pregnancy through the first trimester (three months) of gestation.

This was a landmark case that opened the eyes of States to come up with independent laws allowing abortion to be legally recognized.

From a legal point of view, abortion in Uganda is criminal, despite it being practiced stealthily. Many are people scared of the repercussions which come later as consequences of unsafe abortion, due to the fact that Uganda, as a country, has failed to arrive at a realistic standpoint and move towards decriminalizing abortion.

In simple terms, the decriminalization of abortion means removing specific or otherwise all criminal sanctions against abortion from the law, and changing the law and related policies and regulations to achieve the following:

not punishing anyone for providing safe abortion,
not punishing anyone for having an abortion,
not involving the police in investigating or prosecuting safe abortion provision or practice,

not involving the courts in deciding whether to allow an abortion and
treating abortion like any every other form of health care, that is, using best practices in service delivery, the training of providers, and the development and application of

evidence-based guidelines, and applying existing law to deal with any dangerous or negligent practice.

The legal realm of doing things is based on evidence, both scientific and empirical, and it is such that whatever the law suggests should be circumlocutive on evidence. As far as abortion is concerned, it is evident that according to World Health Organization, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures if done following WHO guidance.

Nevertheless, it is also the cause of at least one in six maternal deaths from complications when it is unsafe. In 2004, research by WHO based on estimates and data from all countries showed that the broader the legal grounds for abortion, the fewer deaths there are from unsafe abortions. Unfortunately for Uganda, the legal grounds are narrowed instead of broadened.

From a religious point of view, it is a key fact that many religious believers are likely to have great empathy with the argument that a person should be able to decide what happens to their own body.

Yet for them, the idea that life is sacred may outweigh other arguments, however good.
Many religions have taken strong positions against abortion; they believe that the issue encompasses profound issues of life and death, right and wrong, human relationships and the nature of society, which make it a major religious concern.

For them, it is not just a matter that concerns a human being and their conscience, but something that concerns a human being and their God.

The Roman Catholics believe that life begins at conception and, therefore, abortion is morally wrong, including other denominations; however the catholic fraternity is more profound on this. Most Protestant churches in Britain and elsewhere view abortion as a moral wrong, but concede that there are some limited conditions when it can be allowed.

Every human being, including an embryo or fetus, has the right to live and to reach their potential, another strong argument put forth against abortion by the religious relics. They also argue that that there are alternatives to abortion, for instance, adoption. Such arguments, coupled with the unborn child not having a choice, point to the moral aspect of this discourse; forgetting to look at both sides of the coin makes an argument lame.

The theologian Stanley Hauerwas puts it like this “It may be issues such as abortion are finally not susceptible to intellectual ‘solution’. I do not mean to suggest that we cease trying to formulate the problem in the most responsible manner possible, but rather that our best recourse may be to

watch how good men and women handle the tragic alternatives we often confront in abortion situations.. For no amount of ethical reflection will ever change the basic fact that tragedy is reality of our lives.

A point is reached where we must have the wisdom to cease ethical reflection and affirm that certain issues indicate a reality more profound than the ethical”
In conclusion, ethical reasoning will have to do much more to outweigh scientific evidence and reality. So, where does this discourse put religion?
In the next episode of Elite Mind I will discuss the notion of whether Uganda should Legalize or Decriminalize Abortion


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