For years, abortion has been a controversial topic, politicized to the point where women’s bodies have become a battleground for policymakers. In a world where most people consider motherhood something to be revered, the idea of terminating a pregnancy and rejecting motherhood is taboo as pregnant people are expected to give unconditional love to their unborn fetus.
Women are expected to explain themselves, to find reasons to justify why we would decide to get an abortion. Laws are created to allow women to get an abortion past a certain period only if they have a good reason to. For instance, abortion has been legalized in Cambodia since 1997 for pregnancy up to 12 weeks.
However, should a person find themselves in a predicament where they want to terminate a pregnancy that’s past 12 weeks, their reasoning needs to fall under one of the following:
- The pregnancy is a result of rape.
- There is probable cause that the fetus doesn’t develop itself as usual or may cause danger to the mother’s life.
- The fetus is going to be born with a possible serious and incurable disease.
If the pregnant person’s reason for getting an abortion after 12 weeks doesn’t fall under one of the three conditions above, then they would have to carry the pregnancy to term regardless of whether they want to.
Why Women Get An Abortion
Before we examine this, let’s talk about why women get an abortion. No woman finds joy in terminating a pregnancy. It’s a traumatic and heartbreaking experience for many, and it’s a very difficult choice. Many women fret and worry about the decision. Abortion comes with many stigmas, and for many, if people around them find out that they got an abortion, they would be ostracized or face harsh judgment.
And yet, according to a report by the WHO, on average, there are 56 million abortions occurring each year worldwide from 2010 to 2014. It is found that 25% of all pregnancies end in abortion. There are countless reasons why.
Although the statistics found that 73% of abortions were carried out by married women, that translates to over 20% of abortions being carried out by unmarried women. In many parts of the world, pregnancy outside of wedlock is taboo, oftentimes resulting in shame and punishment. Hence, many people who find themselves in this predicament choose to terminate the pregnancy.
Having a child is expensive. According to the USDA, a middle-income family spends $12,980 annually per child. The cost varies from one country to another, but it’s undeniable that raising a child not only takes a village, but it can make a huge dent in the parent’s pocket. This is another cause for people deciding to get an abortion. Some people are aware or are concerned that they might not be able to afford the cost, at least not to provide the best possible care for the child.
Another reason is the person is not ready or doesn’t want to have a child. One of the arguments that anti-choice groups retort is, “If you don’t want to get pregnant, then why did you have sex?” This argument has many flaws, one of which is that contraception fails. No contraceptive method has a 100% effective rate. They fail. That’s the fact of life. A person can take all necessary precautions, dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, and still get pregnant. And yet, this doesn’t mean everyone who isn’t ready or doesn’t want to get pregnant should choose abstinence. They have the freedom and right to engage in consensual sexual activities.
Sexual assault is another cause for abortion. According to the UN Women, globally, an estimated 736 million women—almost one in three—have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life (30 percent of women aged 15 and older). In many cases, sexual assault results in pregnancy. The experience of being a survivor is traumatic enough without the survivor having to live with the result of it in the form of a child.
There are countless other reasons why people decide to get an abortion, but there’s one biggest reason for that. And that is, the person wants to get an abortion.
The Importance of Abortion
Abortion is healthcare, abortion is (or at least it should be) legal for everyone. Safe abortion saves lives in many ways. It gives people the opportunity to pursue their dreams, to continue their education, and to live the lives they want. There should be no need for people to justify what they do with their own bodies. It’s their body, their choice. It’s their uterus. Point blank.
A person doesn’t need to give a reason, awaiting validation from other people, because what they do with their own body is their decision and theirs alone. It doesn’t matter why a person wants to get an abortion, it’s no one else’s business, and that includes the government. Women’s bodies are not a battleground where they have to fight tooth and nail to seek permission on how to decide our future. Women’s rights are not negotiable, including sexual and reproductive health rights.
One of the major fights in the second-wave feminist movement was bodily autonomy. Decades later, women and allies are still fighting for the right to access abortion services. We mustn’t forget that.
Thus, at the end of the day, if someone ponders why a woman or a person would decide to terminate their pregnancy and reject the revered motherhood, remember that whatever the reason is, the person doesn’t owe it to anyone to justify their decision.
 Abortion Facts, https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/news/440KeyAbortionFactsFinal.pdf, Accessed March 2022
 Cost of Raising Child, https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/01/13/cost-raising-child, Accessed March 2022
 Ending violence against women, https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures, Accessed March 2022