All over the world, abortion has become a common occurrence that comes as a result of decisions based on the circumstances of different situations or events. As such, the nature of these events sets the precedence upon which abortion is considered lawful or unlawful. In the eyes of the general public, abortion has become a controversial issue that raises numerous concerns on the moral compass of the law or of the society at large. Ideally, the action of aborting is in itself the act of killing an unborn child which in legal definition alludes to the ending of one’s life, albeit in the prior stages of infancy. Nonetheless, it has risen to be one of the most contentious issues in the legal circles bringing about different interpretations of the underlying causes that deem the act to be accepted by law or to be rebutted.
In definition, abortion is the termination of pregnancy. All over the world, thousands of women perform abortions annually. These women have different reasons for commuting such atrocities. However, as defined under the law of not one or to but many countries, abortion is lawful only when its consequences produce a much positive outcome of the health of the affected which is in most cases the mother. The aspect of health in this case points out to the physical and mental health which are detrimental to an individual acquiring a full state of a healthy body and mind. Along such provisions of the law does abortion stand to be a just act that has to be performed to save a life or even save one from experiencing immense pain and a troublesome life?
However, there exist significant differences in the definition or provisions of the law with regard to the topic of abortion. Every country is governed by its own culture, society, religion and legal framework to set the ground for the definition of the act under different circumstances to be granted the label of lawful or unlawful. These differences are pertinent to the nature of the conception of the pregnancy among other things including how the continuance of the pregnancy might gravely endanger the life of the mother and the child. Such situations grant for the medic to look for a compromise between saving the living individual or the one still in the state of infancy or rather a conception.
The different situations in which women find themselves give rise to different points of view in which the act of abortion can be accepted or rebutted by law. These perspectives that often differ from one country to another are crucial to the attainment of a sound legal point of view on the act of abortion. Ideally, every country is governed or rather affected by different factors that influence the different points of view which inform the laws drafted to define the legal judgment on cases regarding the above act. In view of two specific countries and their fundamental framework of their legal structure, this paper hopes to compare and contrast these laws regarding abortion in Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. The comparison of the laws hoes to provide a clear perspective on the different views and how they came to be.
More important is the paper’s purpose to inform on the outstanding legal definitions and consequences of the act of abortion with regard to the countries mentioned above. The United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia hold different notions on the topic of abortion which have been fundamentally affected by the religious teachings, cultural inclinations and social factors that tend to affect the public perception of the act of abortion. The underlying reasons as to why abortion is legal or not and how such conclusions came about will be ascertained after placing focus on the religious teachings of the Quran and the Sunna for Saudi Arabia and The Holy Bible for the United Kingdom. It is prudent to note that however much the two definitions in law differ the two countries both have different situations that permit the act while others hold the ones responsible accountable by the law. The fundamental difference between the Islamic world and the largely secular western world will significantly affect the findings of this research.
Abortion refers to a medical process that involves the termination of an existing pregnancy with the sole purpose of preventing the birth of the unborn child. Biologically, the process might occur spontaneously or as a result of action by either a qualified medical practitioner or the mother of the unborn child. The spontaneous occurrence of such abortion translates to unwanted termination of the pregnancy due to incomprehensive reasons at the time of the occurrence. However, upon further investigations, medical records may ascertain as to whether the occurrence was induced or rather took place of its own volition. Moreover, the results of medical scrutiny are bound to provide additional information to provide sufficient reason for the natural causes of the consequences witnessed. When abortion happens spontaneously, it is medically referred to as a miscarriage.
Abortion may also be induced by the individual carrying the pregnancy or rather on her informed consent. It is prudent to note that abortions have been carried out for eons even in ancient times. Therefore, there are numerous methods of terminating a pregnancy to prevent the birth of the unborn child. It can be accomplished using special natural herbs found in natural vegetation. It can also be conducted by the use of medical expertise either manually or using medicine that will work towards achieving the preferred purpose. In view of this, we note that abortion through induction has existed for many years. However, the only aspect concerning abortion that has changed is the laws that affect it in the modern world and the practices surrounding it in the modern society.
The laws concerning abortion have evolved over the years to the state they now exist in. Different nations have different laws that have been governed by different aspects of the society. It is essential to note that current laws regarding abortion are not what they used to be a century before. The laws have changed dramatically throughout time to accommodate the different perspectives that have changed as a result of the constant alteration of the moral and religious interpretations of the act. Consequently, over the years, anti-abortion groups and pro-abortion groups have had much effect on the policy changes that significantly affect different aspects of the laws regarding abortion.
The first laws that prohibited abortion were first enacted in the 19th century. Before the enactment of these was, one was only limited to perform the abortion by the availability of the essential tools and material to perform the procedure of termination and the technique of accomplishing the act. Since the enactment of the first prohibition laws concerning abortion by Britain in 1803, the laws have evolved to adopt a stricter structure that has highly been due to the morbidity of the cruel methods by which the act was performed over the centuries. However, the alteration of the laws prompted the rise in mortality and the number of abortions conducted all over the world. Therefore, the legislation process of such laws has been without its fair number of challenges that stand in the way of proper enforcement of the law by the responsible authorities. The increase in the rates of abortion and mortality associated with is created even more avenues for further legislation which contained even more stringent structure which exists or is being upheld until today.
The picture portrayed above is totally different from what is seen in the UK. The more liberal laws have left women with some wriggling space and also gives them a chance to decide for themselves. The law even provides for an extension of the legal period of abortion by 1 month. There is more access to abortion services thanks to the licensing of more both public and private institutions like Marie Stopes that offer the services. There are more experienced and licensed professionals who can offer the services and the same cannot be said for Saudi Arabia. The above, when coupled with the lower stigma associated with abortion in the UK, almost guarantees safer abortions with a reduced mortality. This just shows how much a country’s laws and policies have an effect on the wellbeing of its citizens. One may even use this argument to persuade Saudi Arabia to liberalize its abortion laws.
Saudi Arabia is a largely Islamic country. The society is considered to comprise of a Muslim community that holds steadfast to the religious teachings of the Quran and the Sunna. The religious Islamic teachings have a profound effect on the legislation regarding abortion. The fundamental aspect of the laws in Islamic countries with specific regard to Saudi Arabia is their strict-fullness.
The laws of the two countries have a ripple effect on the rates, types, and location of abortions that take place. Saudi Arabia being the one with more of the restrictive laws will have more negative impacts than the positives but this is not only blamed on the laws but also the stigma that comes with unintended pregnancy in the Islamic culture. The law in Saudi Arabia only allows abortion to be carried out in certain facilities manned by doctors. This comes at a cost which when coupled with the aberrant conditions put in place, leaves many women without access to the services. At face value, there has been a reduction in the reported number of abortions but what about the rest, where do they go. This brings me to my next point. As opposed to the UK laws which are generally more accommodating, the Saudi laws have left women with no choice but to seek unsafe ways of abortion that are under the radar of the law.Those who are not lucky enough to access doctors who operate on the underground have to use dangerous methods such taking chemicals and inserting sharp objects into the uterus leading to more harm as most suffer the vagaries of these methods. Most end up with temporary or permanent physical and mental disabilities mostly resulting from infection and sepsis for the lucky ones while some may end up being infertile or in the worst case suffer debilitating hemorrhage and death. For a few who are lucky enough to afford it, they go for it in the neighboring country or Europe.
Both countries allow abortion but only up to a certain gestational age after which procuring an abortion will be considered illegal. As much as both countries especially Saudi Arabia frown upon it, they allow abortion up to their respective periods as long as some conditions are met. Saudi Arabian abortion laws are generally stricter than the UK abortion laws and this is partly because of the strong foothold of the Islamic teaching on the laws. This has placed the limit on abortion in Saudi Arabia at 4 months which differs from the UK’s which stands at 5 months. One may ask, why the difference of one month? Well, one school of thought is that the Quran, which Saudi Arabia bases most of its laws on, states that an angel breathes a soul into the unborn fetus at 120 days gestation that is 4 months. The period is in line with the completion of embryogenesis whereby the body is said to be ready to receive a soul and through this Allah is said to have created a new being. At this point the fetus is said to be a fully sanctified soul and procuring an abortion would be synonymous with murder. In short, abortion in Saudi Arabia is prohibited or forbidden after the completion of 120 days except for those cases with valid reasons. The UK, on the other hand, allows abortion up to the 5th month of gestation, 1 month after what is allowed in Saudi Arabia. The UK limit is based on the fact that the fetus is viable at above 24 weeks that is to mean that it can survive in the extrauterine environment. One could say the UK law is based on scientific proven fact that a fetus can survive after 24 weeks gestation and is arguably better than the Saudi Arabian law that bases its arguments on the interpretation of the Quran by Muslim scholars.
Other than the legal period that has been objectively stated by both laws, other conditions, if fulfilled can also make the abortion lawful. Some of which are shared by both legislations. For the case of the UK, an abortion is considered legal when termination of the pregnancy would present a lesser risk than continuing with the pregnancy that is if the continuing with the pregnancy poses a risk to the mental and physical health of the mother and her family. An abortion can also be considered as legal under the UK law if it is necessary for the aversion of serious permanent injury to either the mental or the physical health of the mother. The same applies to a situation whereby the continuance of the pregnancy would also offer some degree of protection to the unborn child by allowing for the termination of pregnancy if the fetus is at risk of suffering physical and mental abnormalities. The above differ sharply from Saudi Arabia’s legislation which only applies one the above conditions to pregnancies that are have not attained the gestation of 120 days. The Saudi law only allows abortion before 120 days if the mother’s life is at risk. The other conditions put forward by the UK legislation are considered invalid and abortion is completely inhibited after 120 days except for those situations where the maternal physical and mental health are at risk but the law does not consider the health of other family members. The abortion would need to be approved by a group of specialists who have to ascertain if in fact, the mother’s life is at risk before giving the go ahead. So why is this seen as the only valid reason after 120 days? Islamic law generally prohibits the taking of another human’s life except for in defense or capital punishment and the other reasons considered as invalid does not fall into any of the two categories. Choosing the mother over the fetus is considered as the lesser evil i.e. if one is faced with two forbidden things, he/she has to sacrifice the lesser, in this case, the fetus for the greater, the mother. On top of this, the Saudi legislation may allow for abortion but only before 120 days gestation for the purpose of preserving mental and physical health but doesn’t allow abortion at any period whatsoever for the termination of pregnancy resulting from rape, incest and, economic or social reasons. To sum it all up Saudi Arabia only offers the options in three cases as opposed to the UK which allows it in 6, that’s a pretty big difference.
You can also read Free sample paper on Social Analysis of Abortion in the United States