Abortion Tourism & Accidental Tourists
A couple of months ago, the media predicted that the US Supreme Court would ban abortion. Many did not pay much attention to this prediction, as such a move was unsuitable in the 21st Century. Moreover, four countries, namely – Ireland (2018), Argentina (2020), Mexico (2021) and Colombia (2022), have relaxed abortion-related laws in the last five years. However, the US Supreme Court ended the Constitutional Right to Abortion in June 2022.
The reaction of liberal people around the world has been heard in the voice of US President Joe Biden, who said: “The court laid out State laws criminalising abortion that go back to the 1800s… the court literally taking America back 150 years. It’s a sad day for the country, but it doesn’t mean the fight is over. Now with Roe (vs Wade Case) gone, let’s be very clear, the health and life of women across this nation are now at risk. The court has done what it’s never done before… expressly taking away a Constitution Right that is so fundamental to so many Americans.”
As far as the Roe versus Wade Case (1973) was concerned, Roe’s pseudonymous plaintiff, Jane Roe (whose original name was Norma McCorvey) had become pregnant for the third time in 1969. Abortion was not legal in Texas at that period of time. Wishing to terminate her pregnancy, Roe moved the court and filed suit in March 1970 against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, challenging the Texas laws that prohibited abortion. Roe won the case, with the Supreme Court handing down its decision on January 22, 1973. Justice Harry Blackmun reportedly noted that a “pregnancy will come to term before the usual appellate process is complete”. However, Roe never had the abortion. Interestingly, the judgment had become the cause of a great collective celebration.
Five decades ago, the Supreme Court had ruled that the Constitution of the US generally protects the liberty to choose to have an abortion. The Apex Court had opined that although the Right to Abortion was not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, it could be assumed on the basis of the Women’s Right to Liberty and Privacy that the Right to Abortion must be recognised as a Constitutional Right. Half a century later, the same court has denied the transparent reasoning of the judges of the previous generation, and ended the Constitutional Right to Abortion.
Modern human civilisation has never accepted the Women’s Right to Abortion. In her 1986 publication ‘Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America‘, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg mentioned that “the abortion issue can be seen as a political code. It functions as a sexual language through.” She added that restricting abortion was one way that male physicians could “assert clear authority” over their female patients. “The Victorian anti-abortion movement portrayed women who terminated their pregnancies as unnatural and selfish, undermining the expected, patriotic, and godly role of the American woman – that of wife and mother,” wrote Smith-Rosenberg.
The patriarchal State Power has never acknowledged the dominance of women in sensitive issues, like making a final decision regarding childbirth. The religious texts are just one of its powerful excuses. In the early 19th Century, there was no way to accurately determine the age of the foetus. It was more likely that when the would-be mother felt the movement of the baby in her womb, she realised that she got pregnant. If the miscarriage happened before that, no religious leaders used to bother about it. When it became clear in the late 19th Century that one sperm and one mature egg combine to form a zygote, religious and political leaders took an orthodox stand on the issue of abortion. Although women make a final decision regarding childbirth in India in most of the cases, some individuals or groups often show orthodoxy.
Experts believe that the verdict of the US Supreme Court could not stop abortion at all, as upper class women would be more inclined to go to countries where abortion is legal. They have already started using the term Abortion Tourism. However, relatively helpless poor women shall be forced to give birth to unwanted children every year, and the number may touch 60,000. Furthermore, this ruling shall inevitably encourage the black market of oral abortifacient, triggering a rise in the number of women suffering from various serious side effects.
Interestingly, the ongoing movement against this verdict is also not in favour of abortion in particular. Abortion should not be required if there is adequate knowledge and application of the current scientific methods of birth control. Abortion is just like a reliable goalkeeper standing under the bar behind a strong defence line. It has become an emergency measure. The real purpose of this movement is to prevent the State Power from asking the goalkeeper to leave the field. Then only, women can instruct him to be active in their crisis period. They should be accompanied by their well-wishers, close ones and trained health workers, but no one else.
The main essence of the Right to Abortion is that women should have the right to decide on their own reproductive health, effectively taking into account other issues involved therein.
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