You are a sexually active woman. Both you and your partner have been using some form of birth control. Then you miss your period. You don't take it seriously because you have been so careful about contraception. Initially, you tell yourself that these things happen. May be it's the stress or just a routine glitch in your menstrual cycle. After all, women rarely menstruate like clockwork. But just to make sure you take a home pregnancy test. The test is positive. You are pregnant! But you are not turning cartwheels with joy.
For the average woman, finding out that she is pregnant means that it is time to break out the champagne (non-alcoholic!). However, the average woman is probably also married, healthy, financially stable, and the pregnancy has been planned and is the result of consensual sex. Take the case of a woman who has become pregnant after she has been raped. Or consider a woman for whom pregnancy is dangerous. What if the woman is not physically, mentally or financially capable of looking after a child? What about teenage pregnancy?
Pregnancy is not a welcome occurrence for women who do not want to become pregnant for whatever reason. Having a child is something that requires planning and should be a voluntary well thought-out decision. It is the woman who has to carry the baby in her womb for the next nine months and both parents have to bear the tremendous responsibility that rearing a child entails. While making a baby is fun and games, bringing up the child is not a joke. Conception is only the first step on the long journey of parenthood.
Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, a woman has three choices. She could have the baby and face the consequences; she could carry the baby to term and then give it up for adoption; or she could terminate the pregnancy.
Women who cannot bring themselves to abort the baby should remember that having the baby is not always the smartest decision. If the mother is unmarried, both the child and the mother will bear the stigma of illegitimacy. It is not easy bringing up a child alone. Sometimes children from single parent households are not as well-adjusted as other children.
In the case of women who opt to carry the baby to term with the intention of giving it up for adoption, they often discount the bond that develops between mother and baby after nine months in the womb. Women often do not anticipate what a wrench it is to give up the baby to strangers after nurturing her in the womb for nine months. They should remember that adoption is not a reversible decision.
Most women balk at the thought of having an abortion. This is only natural. Terminating a pregnancy is a major decision and one that women should not take lightly. Women should not view abortion in a casual manner as another means of contraception. You don't get rid of a baby merely because you have been careless or because it is inconvenient to have one. But if you have not planned to have a baby and if you cannot give it a good life after it is born, then you should seriously think about having a child. It is not enough to give a child the gift of life. You must be able to ensure a certain quality of life. The point is that women should have the right to choose.
There are two camps on the controversial issue of abortion: pro-life and pro-choice. The pro-life camp is anti-abortion. In their opinion, a foetus is human from the moment of conception. Therefore, having an abortion is equivalent to murdering a baby. The pro-choice camp is for abortion, believing that the decision to have the child should rest with the mother. Debates have been raging around the world on the issue. Governments have vacillated, wondering whether to legalize abortions. In countries where abortions are illegal, women who do not have the financial resources to secure the cooperation of a doctor have been forced to go to quacks who often do not know what an abortion entails. They perform invasive procedures in the most unsanitary conditions that have resulted in complications like damage to the woman's reproductive organs, infertility and even death.
Where does that leave us? While most women have an opinion on this issue, either pro-choice or pro-life, they are often surprised when it comes to making a personal decision. Theory often flies out of the window when you have to put it into practice. There is no 'right' decision. What is 'right' will depend on the circumstances of every pregnancy.