I don’t know if you have heard of the couple from Minnesota who have a web page up letting people vote on whether or not they should have an abortion at 20 weeks gestation. When I heard about this I thought this is where this era of reality show voyeurism has gotten the world, it is now normal and accepted (since the site is still up and hasn’t been taken off-line) to vote on whether or not to kill a baby at 20 weeks gestation (when the baby is developed enough to feel pain).
It has since come to light that this is most probably a hoax site and is in fact meant to be a pro-life campaign. A few reports show that the site address was registered 9-10 weeks before the couple was meant to have gotten pregnant. There are other reports that also indicate that both the father and mother are pro-life advocates.
I do not assume to know what people are going through when they have to make the decision to have an abortion. But, I do know that by 5 weeks of pregnancy you have missed your period. Lets say it takes a few more weeks to make the decision. So why and how do we get to 20 weeks of pregnancy (the cut off date in the states) and decide to have an abortion then? 20 weeks! half way through the pregnancy already. For God’s sake have the baby and give it to someone who wants it. There are many out there.
In the UK the abortion limit is set at 24 weeks. I saw a baby born at just over 24 weeks and she is very much a life and aborting at that age is very much murder. There is also the story of the mother in the UK who had her baby at just over 21 weeks gestation but lied to the doctors and told them that she was 24 weeks so they would resuscitate the baby who ended up surviving.
Saudi Arabia has an extremely high survival rate for premature babies because there isn’t a magic number of days the baby has to have been in their mother’s womb in order to be assisted at birth. It is shocking to me when I remember the story of a mother who was pleading with her doctors and the hospital staff to aid her premature baby when she was born 2 days before she would be “viable”. Her baby survived 2 hours after birth and no one would touch her.
I have tried to read up on abortion rules here in Saudi and this is how it goes according to the Population Policy Data Bank maintained by the United Nations:
Abortions are permitted for the following reasons:
- To save the life of the mother
- To preserve physical health
- To preserve mental health
Abortions are not permitted for the following reasons:
- Rape or incest
- Fetal impairment
- Economic or social reasons
- For personal choice
Legal abortions must be performed in a government hospital and it must be signed off on by three medical specialist appointed by the hospital. They must also obtain written permission from the patient and her guardian or husband.
The punishment for a person who performs an illegal abortion is the payment of blood money to the relatives of the aborted fetus. The report further elaborates that an abortion may be performed with in the first 40 days of pregnancy if “it is deemed necessary to accomplish a legal benefit or to prevent an expected harm” and is not allowed “for fear of hardship in child upbringing or inability to secure the cost of living, education or future or if the parents decide they have enough children”.
After 4 months of pregnancy the rules are much more stringent and an abortion is not allowed unless a medical committee decides that continuing the pregnancy will lead to the mothers harm or death and unless they have exhausted any and all other options.
And that is how it stands when it comes to abortion here in Saudi. And I know, there are people who have to resort to illegal and mostly dangerous ways of getting abortions because they made a stupid mistake and sometimes sadly because they had no choice in the matter to begin with (rape, incest) But I do not know the statistics about this.
What I do know is while I was at school, a girl I knew of who has seriously family issues and was very emotionally abused by her father almost died because she could not find any help. She had gotten pregnant, she was unmarried and had made a mistake. She saw a Dr who then told her that the fetus was not growing, essentially it died and that she should go home and wait and most probably she would start bleeding in a day or two. She went home and ended up being locked in her room by her father for a week. I will not go into the details of this sad story but she did not start bleeding and her life was in danger because she could have been poisoned by the dead fetus. She had to resort to back alley clinics to have the procedure done (God knows what damage was caused).
I know she was wrong, I know it was her mistake. Having said that, I do not presume that I have the right to judge her in any way. She is more devout now than ever and it is between herself and God but it is obvious she has since repented. How she handles the mistakes she makes in her life is between her and God. I do wish there was a better, more discreet way she could have gotten help.
“Alsutr” is an arabic term derived from the word “Sutra” meaning clothing or something that covers you or covers your vulnerable parts. “Alsutr”, covering yours or others vulnerabilities is a basic principle of Islam. We do not air people’s mistakes or problems (rather we are not meant to). We must keep things discreet and not shame others by making their personal issues public and open to judgment by people. So if someone did make a mistake, or if someone was raped, and they chose to have an abortion as soon as they knew they were pregnant knowing that having the baby would cause them great harm in their lives socially and sometimes physically at the hands of family members doesn’t it make sense that they should be able to?
I also wish I had statistics on how many babies are born out-of-wedlock here in Saudi. I know that there are new-born babies up for adoption because they were born out of wed lock. I know some are left in front of houses or more likely mosques to be found. But how many? and if there are many then these women must have someone supporting them mustn’t they? how else would they have given birth and taken the baby to where ever it is they left it? and then what happens to the mothers?
I do not like labels and pro-choice or pro-life are not ones I choose to adopt. I’m pro common sense. I came across this site that lists abortion laws around the world. I am not sure of its accuracy but it was very interesting to look at. It would be interesting to get the different points of view on the matter from muslims and non muslims alike.