Dear reader, somewhere in this article I have used language that some people may deem raw and inappropriate. I couldn’t avoid it. Let’s remember that the reason we started late on HIV/AIDS education was because of our fear to use words that resonate well with the disease. For a long time we avoided talking openly about sex even as we knew sex and HIV belong in the same sentence. Let’s avoid the same mistake as we discuss abortion.
I support the Assistant Minister of Local government and Member of Parliament for Mahalapye East, Botlogile Tshireletso’s calls for government to consider legalizing abortion. The MP is so spot on that I’d support her case even if she presented it in Russian. You see, as people we make the work of our representatives very difficult. We are confusing them. When they go to parliament and push for laws of their own interest, we condemn and blame them for advancing their own agendas at our expense. When they speak for laws that some people deem improper, those people complain, with no regard for those who are in support. Look, Mma Tshireletso is not asking the government to permit her to undergo an abortion. The poor lady doesn’t even run a gynaecology clinic and as such won’t benefit from the legalization of abortions. Tshireletso, as a woman, a mother and a true representative of the people, is only advancing the wishes of some of her electorates. She doesn’t have to personally like abortions for her to advocate for the legalization because afterall, it’s not about what she likes but rather what the people want. Instead of castigating Mma Tshireletso and wanting to eat her alive, let us debate on the issue she has raised.
Just yesterday, former President Festus Mogae was calling for the legalization of prostitution and instead of people providing sound reasons as to why we can’t legalize the oldest profession, people castigated him. Some even insinuated Mogae must be a customer. I have written extensively advocating for the liberalization of the entertainment industry and condemned President Khama for personalizing the issue of alcohol consumption. People now take me to be an alcoholic who wants to stay at night clubs until morning. When asked about same sex relationships, President Khama rightly said he doesn’t find anything wrong with what goes on in the privacy of two consenting adults. Just because Khama didn’t condemn same sex relationships or gays, he is now gossiped to be one. These cases are meant to explain that you do not necessarily need to have personal attachments to a course for you to fight for it. Tshireletso doesn’t have to be an abortionist to advocate for abortion. Mogae doesn’t have to use the services of prostitutes to call for their recognition.
Back to abortion. Let’s dissect Mma Tshireletso’s plea. First of all we need to remind ourselves that legalizing abortion doesn’t mean rounding up all pregnant women for termination. It will be out of choice and consent. Let’s also bear in mind that even as it is illegal, abortions are rampant in the country. Remember the six heads of babies that were dumped in a bucket? Right now, somewhere, a woman is fighting for her life due to a botched abortion performed by someone who can’t even spell the word ‘womb’. Last week I read in newspapers that Francistown cemeteries are full and there’s no more space for the dead. I can assure you some of the residents at those cemeteries occupy their eternal resting places courtesy of backyard abortions gone wrong.
Let’s face it. We cannot stop people from carrying out abortions but surely we can help them do it safely and the only way to safe abortions is through legalization. Let’s stop being pretentious. We all know how easy it is to fall pregnant and how tempting it can be to do things that bring about pregnancies. If you do not know, then excuse yourself from this debate because you won’t comprehend the arguments. Look, we do have ‘accidental’ pregnancies. We have unplanned pregnancies. We also have changes of hearts and minds. Not all pregnancies occur because people would not have attempted protected sex. Why should a woman be forced to go on with a pregnancy that happened due to a burst condom? Why can’t a woman be allowed to carry an abortion when two months into the pregnancy she realizes she opened her legs to a conman who used fraudulent means to ‘eat the fruit’? Why can’t a woman be allowed to terminate her pregnancy if the man says “I don’t think I’ll be with you in the next nine months?” Why can’t the woman terminate the pregnancy when the couple has a change of heart about having a baby just after conceiving? Why should a woman go through the agony of a bulging tummy with swelling legs and oily nose and mood swings when she has decided otherwise about having a child? I know some will be quick to say if you are not ready for a child then don’t fall pregnant but like I have already stated, bedroom temptations can be too tempting. I mean, we’re all mortals, with our human weaknesses and errors of judgement.
As far as I’m concerned, a responsible woman is the one who terminates the pregnancy when compared to the one who goes ahead with the pregnancy only to dump or neglect the child after birth. Do we enjoy the sight of forsaken kids with mucus dripping from nose to mouth with no parental care? Is it not better to die inside the womb as a foetus than become an urchin as a person in the outside world? Besides, abortion should never be likened to murder. You kill someone who has a name and known gender. Terminating pregnancy is just stopping the formation of a human-being on its tracks and at that stage it is absurd to claim you have killed a person. What’s his or her name? If stopping sperm and egg from fertilizing further into a human-being is deemed as murder as some people describe abortion, then it means even collecting sperms through condoms and throwing them into dustbins is murder because we are interrupting a process that would have eventually led to the creation of a human-being.
I have a gynaecologist friend who practices in Mafikeng and he tells me on average he performs four abortions every week on women from Botswana. His rates start from R1 300 to R2 900 depending on the length of period of the pregnancy. Infact he was against the idea of me writing this article because Batswana women continue to make him rich and as such he doesn’t want the Botswana government to legalize abortion as that would mean loss of business for him. It is not only our local gynaecologists who are losing out on revenue. The government too is losing out on the much needed tax paid by medical practitioners. I expect rebuttals from Christians and moralists but please be reminded you’ll be barking up the wrong tree because I’m not the one who made ours a secular state. Democracy is all about being lost for choices, as long as your choices do not harm others. If you are not the one who is pregnant, how then can abortion harm you?