EDITORIAL: Open-minded debate needed

19 October 2021 | Opinion

The current abortion debate is filled with emotion, often revolving around moral, legal and religious arguments.

The sides involved are the self-described "pro-choice" and "pro-life" movements. Pro-choice emphasises the right of women to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy, while pro-life emphasises the right of the embryo or foetus to be born.

Each movement has, with varying results, sought to influence public opinion and attain legal support for their position. For many people, abortion is essentially a morality issue, concerning the commencement of human personhood, the rights of the foetus and a woman's rights over her own body.

The debate has become a political and legal issue, with anti-abortion campaigners seeking to enact, maintain and expand anti-abortion laws, while pro-abortion campaigners seek to repeal or ease such laws while expanding access to abortion.

In the Namibian context, we are increasingly seeing these debates flourish, as campaigners on both sides have heated discussions, which have now also a proliferated the National Assembly. An online petition around the subject last year garnered over 60 000 signatures in favour of the right to terminate a pregnancy legally in Namibia.

All we can hope for is an open-minded debate on this very complex issue, taking into account the ongoing illegal abortions prevalent in the country, and ‘abortion tourism’ that sees many young Namibians leaving our shores to have these procedures in, for example, South Africa, where abortion is legal.

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