Her Body, Her Choice

Abortion has always been a controversial topic. One of the strictest abortion policies today, exists in Ireland, but do they have a right to criminalize women wanting an abortion?


The “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013” reiterate on the abortion laws that have been in place since 1861 in Northern Ireland. These abortion laws allow an abortion only in the event that a woman is likely to commit suicide as a result of her pregnancy; or has a condition making her unfit to bear a child without risking her own life. By law, the medical practitioners may not share advice on how to abort. These women must find their own solutions without medical guidance.

A new study suggests that from 2010 to 2015, 5,650 women in Northern Ireland gained access to pills to terminate their pregnancies, as claimed by the BBC. An additional 4,000 women travel outside of Ireland’s borders, for abortions every year, according to Amnesty International.

There are two responsible persons for conception: the male and the female. However, two unknown medical practitioners decide whether she has the right to an abortion. Her body is compromised. Her future is at risk. As Dr. Peter Boylan told Amnesty International, “We must wait until women become sick enough before we can intervene. How close to death do you have to be?” Even in the event that two doctors are of the same opinion, this is by default a subjective way to define the rest of her life. They cannot predict if a mother will be able to raise her child.

In Ireland, by law, the fetus must be prioritised over its mother. Rebecca H. knows this from experience. As she was sickly at the time of her labour, the doctors refused a cesarean section, apprehensive that it may bring harm to her child. Rebecca was forced through 36 hours of labour. Now Rebecca  fears having another child.

Lupe carried a dead fetus for 14 weeks, as doctors still refused to ‘terminate her pregnancy’. She admitted to Amnesty International: “It became clear to me, that if any complication was raised, these people would let me die.”

Contrastingly, according to David Robert Grimes, pro life supporters argue that abortion has a long term effect on the mental health of the mother, possibly leading to depression and suicide later in her life. They refer to this as P.A.S. or post abortion syndrome. However, this is not evidenced in science as much as in rumours. An experiment conducted in Denmark revealed that women with and without a history including abortion, are likely to have the same level of mental health.   

Their main argument is that the fetus can feel pain. As the pregnancy is terminated, the fetus is being poisoned. In their eyes, this is no different than murder. However, it takes 26 weeks for the fetus to develop a nervous system and the ability to feel. The international limit for abortion is 24 weeks into the pregnancy, it is therefore very unlikely that the fetus can feel the abortion, unless it is aborted after this point, which is the case in a minority of abortions.

In all of these cases, there are counter arguments. Just as you cannot generalize all murder trials, you cannot generalize all abortion cases. Ultimately, a government should have no right to produce laws and policies, without properly informing themselves of the ramifications of their opinions. A woman should have the rights to her own body, she should be allowed an abortion at a minimum in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal impairment or any risk to their mental and physical health, which is their right under international law. A government has no right to penalize a woman for wanting an abortion, this does not make her a  criminal.