Being the child of two doctors, the dedicated kind, who bring their work home, and with my mother being a gynecologist, I often witnessed first hand the complexities that come with a decision to terminate a pregnancy. My mother, who was often asked to testify as an expert witness in court, regularly discussed those cases with my father, and I was privy to the deliberations for and against abortion. In a sense, I grew up with Roe v. Wade, as these cases were a part of my formative years. Because of it, I understand why the topic is so sensitive and so difficult to resolve.
Through my background, I came to believe that at the end of the day, a woman should make her own choice about whether or not to have an abortion. However, I also believe that because people do not have sufficient knowledge about the consequences of such a decision, what it means for the mother, for the fetus, and for the people around the pregnant woman, how it might affect, or not affect her health, under what circumstances the woman conceived, and countless other considerations, it is very difficult to come to a wise and educated decision.
Needless to say, in extreme cases, such as in situations of sexual abuse or rape, as is happening today in Ukraine, there is no question that abortions should be permitted. Therefore, there should certainly not be an absolute ban on abortion.
But there is more to this issue than dealing with emergencies. Roe v. Wade was intended to give women the right to decide about their own bodies. This is a completely sensible decision. However, in order to come to a decision that truly helps her, a woman needs to have all the information before she decides what to do.
Currently, there is no system that provides that information. People are ignorant about the consequences of their actions and decisions. In other words, before we decide about the right to make an abortion, we must educate people about everything surrounding the whole process.
It is not only abortion that is discussed here. People have no knowledge about sex education, birth controls, parenthood, childbearing and child-rearing. A decision concerning the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion should be part of that entire complex, that complete education system, and not a separate issue.
Clinically, having an abortion is a simple procedure. However, it is a very emotional process. The emotional and mental consequences of it appear only after the fact, when the woman, and sometimes her family, has to live with her decision. This is why it is so important to allow women to make educated decisions, and this requires setting up an educational process that will see to it.
Additionally, the state should not leave women to deal with the consequences of their decisions on their own. The government should set up a mechanism for assisting women in going through with their decisions, whether it is to have the child or to abort the pregnancy, and to recover from it afterwards.
I can understand the uproar that the ruling of the Supreme Court has caused. Moreover, I am certain that people will go through with abortions despite the court’s ruling. The problem is that in states that ban abortions, women will do it illegally, which might expose them to inadequate sanitary conditions, treatment by unauthorized personnel, and prohibitive costs.
Therefore, the only solution that I can see is a systemic solution that takes into account the needs and views of all the people involved, provides comprehensive information and covers all the angles of the issue, and offers systems that assist in making the right decision and dealing with it afterwards. Once such a system is in place, I believe it will be natural to leave the choice in the hands of the women who must make the choices concerning their own lives and the lives of their unborn children.
Abortion rights activists hold a candlelight vigil outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein