Le droit à l’avortement agite et divise toujours le monde aujourd’hui. Certains le considèrent comme un crime tandis que d’autres défendent le droit de la femme à disposer de son corps. Malgré une démocratisation de cette pratique, certains pays continuent de l’interdire ou de le restreindre à l’aide de lois tandis que d’autres ne mettent pas en place les infrastructures nécessaires alors qu’ils l’autorisent.
Women’s rights are still a thorny issue around the world. They are important in order to understand and estimate global well-being. A lot of nations in the world have ratified women’s rights treaties a few decades ago. Despite this, numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, from the cultural and political areas to the economic area. The abortion right is an example of women’s rights which differs according to countries. It has to do with a moral but also a legal point of view. The moral issue is about the commencement of human personhood, the rights of the fetus, and a woman’s rights over her own body. This debate divides public opinion but it is interesting to note that it can evolve over time.
Ireland’s attitude towards abortion has evolved. Indeed, even if both of the biggest political parties have a conservative standpoint on this issue, more and more Irish people would like to have more rights concerning abortion: an Amnesty poll found out that 87% of Irish people want access to abortion to be expanded to their country and 69% believe that it should be a priority for the government. Besides, a number of feminists have campaigned for an abortion referendum. With one of the most restrictive legal frames in developed countries, Ireland has been subjected to an increasing pressure to reform its legislation on abortion.
A woman who has an abortion illegally in Ireland may be jailed for up to fourteen years. Abortion is only authorized if the life of the mother is in danger. Ireland is the only European country (with the exception of Andorra, Malta, and San Marino) to forbid abortion in cases of rape, incest, and grave or mortal deformation of the fetus. Abortion could thus play an important role during political elections in Ireland and in some parts of the United Kingdom (during a vote last February in Northern Ireland, the majority of Northern Ireland’s politicians voted to keep the country’s abortion law exactly as it is). Although Ireland sticks to its guns of extreme limitation on abortion, some events (such as Savita Halappanavar’s tragic death in 2012) and public debates can also lead to a great deal of media attention on abortion. This is the beginning of an evolution because such media coverage enables to spread the debate and thus to think more about women’s rights.
Picture: Savita Halappanavar’s tragic death fueled the debate on abortion in Ireland. She was only 31 years old when she died on 28 October 2012 in Ireland due to complications after a miscarriage. She was 17 weeks pregnant when she went to University Hospital Galway and the doctors refused to perform an abortion as long as the heart of the baby was still beating. When the baby died, she was finally moved to intensive care but died from blood-poisoning. The story of Savita provoked public outrage in Ireland because people argued that she could have been saved had she been allowed to get an abortion.
Nevertheless, even when justice authorizes abortion, people can refuse to practice it. Italy is a case in point with an increase of the number of refusals although abortion was legalized in 1978: indeed, seven in ten Italian gynecologists refuse to carry out abortions.
The UNITED STATES
In the United States, the federal American justice considers that the abortion right concerns the right to privacy protected by the 14th amendment. However, in some States (such as Mississippi, Nebraska, and Missouri, for example) there are almost no abortion clinics. In 2011, more than 95 % of Minnesota’s counties had no private hospitals practicing abortion. Certain States lack hospitals practicing the termination of pregnancies. For example, in Texas (a territory bigger than France), three-quarters of a million women live more than 200 miles away from this kind of hospital. Certain limitations on abortion implementations ratified by a law in 2013 threaten the existence of these clinics.
This shows that the abortion right may also be limited by the infrastructures of a country and not only by laws. Some States of the United States of America perfectly illustrate the lack of clinics practicing abortion.
The abortion right is a global debate which differs according to countries, cultures, religions but also personal desires and infrastructures. Indeed, a woman who wants to have an abortion can’t have one if hospitals and doctors don’t or refuse to practice this operation. The opinion of people changes with the evolution of society but public opinion always remains divided on this issue.
Graph: we can see global stagnations in the American public opinion. There was no major evolution between 2001 and 2012.
JU Sophie, LEFEBVRE Coline & Margaux NEURANTER