Here’s Why Malaysia’s Abortion Laws Need To Seriously Look Into Pro-Choice Arguments

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source: NDTV

It’s 2022, and illegal abortions are prevalent as ever in Malaysia. But you know what else is?

Rape, incest, and several other forms of unthinkable sexual abuse. Oh, and the world hasn’t discovered a infallible way to prevent or cure foetal impairment, either.

Other Asian countries though, are moving forward in some of these areas. Yesterday, the Indian Supreme Court announced the amendment of the law to allow women, regardless of marital status, to undergo abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. In its statement, the court mentioned that denying unmarried women in consensual relationships their rights to a safe abortion would be “unconstitutional”.

As of October 26th, Thailand, a nation mostly inhabited by Buddhists, will also permit abortions for citizens up to the 20th week of pregnancy.

Why? Because abortions are cool, modern or desirable? No, because they’re necessary and there are relatively safe, medically endorsed ways to go about it.

Don’t get me wrong- abortions becoming a necessity to the point where laws need to be revised is not a good thing. I, too, wish that women would only fall pregnant when they absolutely want to and all be guaranteed safe pregnancies. The issue here is that we can’t have that.

source: Investopedia

According to Section 312 of the Penal Code in Malaysia, “Whoever wilfully causes a woman to miscarry is subject to imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with a fine, or with both; and if the woman is quick with child (beyond her fourth month of pregnancy), she is punishable by imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and is also liable to a fine.”

The termination of pregnancy is only allowed if done to save the pregnant individual’s life or to protect their mental and physical state. While that’s logical and helpful, it’s honestly the bare minimum.

Here’s why:

Abortion isn’t the only sin- if that’s the main concern

source: The Jakarta Post

From a religious stance, most faiths equate abortions to murder. The heisting of an innocent life, of one’s own flesh and blood. Even so, with all due respect to every belief, lawmaking is not as simple as referring to sacred texts and religious prohibitions.

The same faith that bars abortion most likely frowns upon rape and incest as well. So how can we as a people generalise the situation and punish a woman for a crime that was committed unto her?

Also bear in mind that sending the rapist to prison does not save the mother from the fate of having to raise the child, possibly on her own, following the infliction of trauma.

The law needs to follow the people, because there is no plausible way to convince an entire society to follow the law.

Abortions aren’t the only danger in question

source: Frontiers

On to the second part- the belief that the termination of pregnancy ends the life of an innocent person. Let’s lean into the fact that, according to Code Blue, in Malaysia, abortion is not allowed on the grounds of foetal impairment.

If this is truly about the fetus’ wellbeing, then how about we consider the fact that they, despite having all the risks identified beforehand, are still required by law to be carried to term only to be stillborn or to, at best, live with an impaired quality of life?

Parents who are willing and capable of caring for a disabled child might not be affected but what about a couple who is not prepared to take on that responsibility?

This could be a matter of shoving suffering down a child’s throat and forcing their parents to witness that.

Besides that, as with all medical procedures (including childbirth), abortions practically cannot be performed with absolutely zero risk. But realistically, prohibiting them does not mean women are any safer.

While allowing women to undergo abortions, albeit very rarely, exposes them to health risks… What has outlawing them done to the country?

Medical abortion pills being sold online without the need of a prescription, women going to shoddy areas to get their pregnancies terminated by unqualified individuals, women inserting coat hangers and other foreign objects into their vaginas and bleeding to death in the process.

The shame-related suicides.

Abortion is healthcare, and if the law forbids it, women who are desperate for help will resort to other methods anyway, even if it means risking their lives. Treating abortions as a crime is not a foolproof way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and is evidently ineffective in countering sexual crimes.

The blame game simply doesn’t cut it

source: INC

As we dive into the more taboo and #unpopularopinion segment of this article, we put aside all concepts of sex crimes and religion. What’s left is the women who get pregnant as a result of a mutual sexual relationship.

But how do we point fingers at them when contraceptives do not come with 100% no-pregnancy guarantee?

Every Sex Ed class tells us how condoms are not fully reliable, Plan B pills have turned out ineffective for several women; hell, even women who were once deemed infertile by healthcare professions have wound up with healthy babies.

No, we can’t depend on IUDs either. Besides the fact that women can still get pregnant and face complications, the general public does not have equal access to medical care.

Plus, a woman who is trying to get pregnant with her husband’s child is not immune to rape, nor is her husband incapable for forcing, coaxing, manipulating and blackmailing her into sex. Marriage does not impede rape in any way. There is no possible excuse for generalisation here.

On the topic of pregnancy as a result of underage individuals engaging in sex, let us also realise that pubescent curiosity is not something that can be collectively curbed. Where a lesson must be taught, there is still no place for a forced pregnancy especially when the ‘mother and father’ can barely afford to raise their child- not only in financial terms, but taking their mindset, maturity and personal situations into account.

Depending on ‘moral ground’ is deeply unrealistic and we all know that.

No one is an exception

source: Fatherly

It’s not just a matter of whether you’re pro-life, pro-choice, educated or ‘brought up well’. It’s about rape, incest, abuse. Your parents and teachers can’t ‘educate’ you when they’re the ones sexually abusing you, or enabling it.

Yes, it’s about the children who are groomed and raped by their family members and parental figures. It’s the surge of baby dumping cases. It’s the parents who are unable to support the children they were legally obligated to have. It’s the parents who have watched their babies die on hospital beds because they were left with no other choice; and the kids who are forced to live with birth defects and disabilities.

It’s the fight for a woman’s personal rights and liberty to decide what she wants to do with her body, handle her trauma, deal with her circumstances. The muffled cries of women who are slut-shamed and shunned for their choices.

A woman is allowed to have sex without wanting a baby and that’s a fact we simply have to learn to accept.

This, and so much more.

Abortions don’t have to be glorified, celebrated or politicised. But in today’s menacing, unpredictable world, they need to be made an option.