The battle over the banning of abortion is fierce once again in the United States. The debate rages on and history is about to be made with possible overturning, or changing in some major ways, Roe vs Wade. The long and short of this decision of the Supreme Court of the US was that a woman had the right to choose whether or not to have abortion.
This week, in Kenya, the High Court made a decision that abortion is illegal. In a sense, the High Court decision is the opposite of Roe vs Wade.
The debate over the right to choose, or the right to life, may not be as simple as it seems. At the core of it are key considerations of survival of a people but sometimes stating it as it is may not be politically correct.
Women play such critical roles in society that the decisions that they make affect the very survival of society as we know it. Men may preside over the power of destruction and overt power, however, the power of survival rests with women.
In the best of times the decision over whether to get pregnant or not is essentially a woman’s. A man is needed just to aid the process. The decision over the success of the pregnancy again is a woman’s. And there in lies the survival of a society.
Then the second phase of survival begins which is the transmission of social values, beliefs and views to the next generation. Too often it is the women who play this significant role. It is the mother most likely who is there in a child’s most relaxed moment, giving the basic instructions of life. And so once again it is to women that the critical role of acculturation and the very survival of society falls.
What has all these got to do with the right to choose? At the very basic instinct of a woman the question of what to do with a pregnancy may not arise. It is simply understood as the natural thing to do.
However, as society evolves then this begins to change. An increasingly sophisticated society affords both men and women many options and some of the natural roles become inhibitions to participating in these roles. It is in this case that pregnancy, for example, begins to become an inconvenience, can be postponed, or done away with. Women then demand the space to make a choice whether to participate in society, play the nurturing role, or do both.
It is worth noting that the woman’s right to choose poses the biggest threat to the social economic class. It is in this class that the fertility rate would have drastically fallen. Women in this social group leave procreation to a much later date in life, then space the task thus endangering the very survival of the social class.
The debate over the right to choose must be viewed against the threat that this is to the survival of this socio economically dominant class. By virtue of their social success they would have accumulated sufficient resources and have to watch out for any threat to it. The threat is significant since the numbers inside the group is small while the number outside is large and one needs the numbers to defend what has been accumulated.
This is at the core of Donald Trump’s fear of the immigrants into the United States. It is at the core of a Kenyan politician’s call to his community to breed. It is at the core of the opposition to the right to choose. If the economically dominant class has its way it will fight for its survival, and its survival rests in more women from their social economic group producing more children who look like the members of the group with the hope that these children will guarantee the survival of the group. — The writer is the Dean, School of Communication, Daystar University.