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A Legal, Public and Moral Look at Abortion on Society

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A Legal, Public and Moral Look at Abortion on Society


Abstract

Abortion is a social issue which is in dispute. Different stakeholders have different views on whether it is ethically right to terminate pregnancy before the childbirth. This piece discusses how the laws, the teenagers, social organizations and religions in Hong Kong think about whether abortion is acceptable. At the end, I would explain why do I think abortion might be a good alternative for women with unplanned pregnancy.

Introduction

        She is a woman, she is the mother of an unborn baby. Does she have a right to terminate the life of her baby? If her physical status is affected by the baby, how does she choose between her health or saving a young life? In Hong Kong, there are a lot of discussion between the government, general public and social organizations about can we terminate a babys life when his/her body, mind and sensation are not well-developed. In fact, I believe that if a woman has her own right to choose, there are more social problems, such as child abandonment, could be solved.

Real Case in Hong Kong

In November 2013, a woman has been arrested after inducing an abortion at home in Yuen Long (Lo, 2013), as she was incapable of getting an approved abortion. The moral issue of abortion in Hong Kong has never been in such a confounded position since more and more parents abandoned their babies under the circumstance of unplanned pregnancy; some people suggested that abortion should be legal to solve the problem of child abandonment. Doubtless, there are also a group of people opposed to abortion for ethical reasons. Generally, abortion is caused by unplanned pregnancy when no contraception is used or the contraception used wrongly during sexual intercourse. While abortion could be related to the educational issues and social phenomenon, or even more. Abortion is not a temporary social issue, but one accumulated and aggravated by manifold factors, and it is essential to understand the social views of Abortion in Hong Kong.

Social Views on Abortion

From the legal viewpoint, abortion is acceptable under certain circumstances, as they examined it from physical and medical views. The Abortion law reform in Hong Kong was being adopted in 1972 (Wong, 2013). It stated that women are allowed to terminate their pregnancies when their physical or mental health is being affected by continuation of the pregnancy, even causing abnormalities. The action has to be approved by two medical practitioners. The government has revised the law again in 1981, some special cases of the allowance of abortion are added including the mothers are victims of rape or under 16 years old, and their pregnancies are within 24 weeks (Clinic Services: Termination of Pregnancy, n.d.). The laws indicated that abortion is able to be tolerated when it comes to the danger of mother. As the mothers who are not prepared to be pregnant may suffer from prenatal depression, it could lead to postpartum psychosis or substance abuse if they continues their pregnancy. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, prenatal depression could be caused by the sudden change in hormone levels or brain chemistry and structure (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009), which cannot be controlled by the mother. Abortion is legally correct in this situation in order to save the life of the mothers. For the latter cases, abortion can be adopted because the women are being pregnant unwillingly by engaging in pre-marital sex. Considering the tremendous pressures and incomplete body development of young single mothers, the infants may suffer from different congenital disorders when the mothers are too young. How about the situation in which abortion is considered as “wrong” in laws? As the women who do not meet the requirements may seek for the termination of pregnancy service in Shenzhen hospitals, or taking pills for miscarriage just like the case at the beginning of this article, it would be considered as illegal abortion, the mothers would be amenable to imprisonment and fine.

         Teenagers in Hong Kong also played a major role in discussing the abortion issue, while most of the adolescents think that they have the right to decide whether continue or terminate the pregnancy. For most of the teenagers in Hong Kong, abortion is by no means a “wrong” action when it is the only way for them to solve the economical, psychological and family problems. There are many teenage abortion cases happened in Hong Kong before. Based on the data provided by Mother's Choice, there are nearly 7000 women encounter crisis pregnancies and the majority of whom are young single girls (Yeung, 2013). Teenage pregnancy mostly caused by pre-marital sex, while the students did not receive proper sex education from their schools. A study on students’ sexual attitudes and views on sexual harassment conducted by Equal Opportunities Commission in 2013, has found that nearly half of the interviewees expressed that no one had ever discussed with them about the topic of compensated dating and sexual attitudes (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2013). When the teenagers do not realize the consequences of pre-marital sex, they may do it without proper contraception. Teenagers would be depressed easily for unplanned pregnancy, as they may be blamed by their parents, or even get kicked out of school. The Family Planning Association has warned that young single mother would feel emotional stress easily due to the lost of schooling opportunities, financial struggles and also the tension with family. That is why many of the students in Hong Kong are turning to social media or online forum for sex advice, causing the viscous cycle that they would never find social workers or adults for helps. So, most of the teenagers think that they have the rights to terminate their pregnancies and they would put “continuing the normal lives” as urgent priority.

For the non-profit social organizations in Hong Kong, they would offer helps to women for abortion, as they also concerned about it from mental views. There are generally two social organizations which offer both clinical and counseling services about abortion for single mother, including The Family Planning Association Of Hong Kong and Mother's Choice. They think that it is civilized to value the mother's life and we should put a full-grown human as first priority to save. First of all, for the FPA of Hong Kong, its mission is "to play a leading role in family, sexual and reproductive health and rights." (The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (a) , n.d.). In regards to abortion, it provides the "Termination of Pregnancy Counseling Service" (The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (b), n.d.), which including pregnancy tests, general surgery referral, medical evaluation, and counseling services (once post-abortion, and twice pre-abortion). The medical service helps women to get a safe abortion, for the purpose of maintaining their mental and physical health. For Mother's Choice, it targets to provide crucial service and mental supports to the young pregnant girls (Mother's Choice, n.d.), in order to ensure them to have a life-affirming and positive attitude towards abortion. The services included both pre- and pro-abortion support, counseling, legal and medical needs assessment etc. It believes that it is not civilized to force an innocent girl or woman to undergo a pregnancy which will potentially kill her, which a healthy woman's life is valuable. In general, the social organizations in Hong Kong give a tendency towards the belief of “her body, her choice”. The women have their own preference on continuing or terminating their pregnancies and the others have no right to make choices for them.

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