Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Need for Safe Abortions World-Wide

 Marissa Gray

            Everyday women all over the world die from trying to terminate a pregnancy that they didn’t want.  Worldwide the number of unsafe abortions per 1000 women has risen from 44 in 1995 to 49 in 2008 (Conley, 2012).  Guttmacher Institute reported that in 2008 there were 43.8 million abortions that happened worldwide.  Because abortion is illegal in many countries women have to find unsafe ways of getting rid of the pregnancy, even if countries did allow it, it was generally if the pregnancy was a risk to the woman’s health.   

            There are many reasons why women need abortions.  Some become pregnant through rape, incest, or they could be married at a young age and not be ready for children.  In some countries women that already have too many children cannot afford another pregnancy.  A final reason for wanting to terminate a pregnancy is that either the child will die in birth or kill the mother during birth.  Since many third world countries do not have the health budgets to provide women with family planning services or contraception, abortion is their only option yet many these same nations prohibit the practice. 

Unsafe abortions are a worldwide problem. Legalization of abortions is a fairly new practice that only began in countries after World War II.  Culture and religion have a large impact on the availability of abortion services.  Some cultures and religions believe it is murder if the woman tries to abort; therefore, the woman tries to have the abortion in secret.  In some countries if the woman gets pregnant before marriage even if raped, she is accused of dishonor and will likely never marry.    

            Unsafe abortions are detrimental to women’s health.  The World Health Organization estimated that in developing countries 115,000- 204,000 women died from complications from illegal abortions for an average of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions performed.  Even if a woman survives the procedure, she may suffer health complications such as fistula or infertility.  Not only are there physical side effects there are many mental side effects from abortions.  Depression is a major issue.  Post-traumatic stress disorder can be another mental illness that women can suffer from after the procedure. 

Having safe and medically supervised abortions as an available option for women can help improve women’s health dramatically.  Many countries are trying to provide modern day contraceptives such as condoms or birth control pills for prevention of pregnancy.  Other countries offer safe and medically supervised clinics for abortions to be performed in.   Contraceptives are not just used for prevention of pregnancy they are also important in the prevention of STD’s and AIDS.   The good news is that there is a decline overall in abortion related deaths, because many countries such as Australia and Germany are legalizing abortions so women can get them in a safe way.

            The first choice to help this issue would be for every country to provide safe and available contraception and maternal health services. However since this is not possible in many poor countries, then the only other option would be to have safe abortion services. It is better for the women to have the option rather than them doing harmful unsafe things to get rid of the pregnancy.  The think that you can do to help this issue is to help make it known such as many organizations are trying to do.  International Consortium for Medical Abortion is one of these organizations; they want to promote the availability of safe abortions worldwide.  Women on Waves is another non-profit organization.  They are an organization that wants to prevent unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions worldwide.  These organizations are just a step into bettering women’s rights and improving their lives.  You can find more options on this issue through these organizations and they offer also what you can do to help this issue.

An Analysis of the Painting, Rembrandt’s Old Jew Seated, and its Resemblance to Isaac’s Appearance after Imprisonment.

When reading the Septembers of Shiraz, I was inspired by one of the quotations cited.  It is a moving story, in that a man is returned to his family after a long term of imprisonment by the guards of the revolution, who imprisoned, tortured, and/or executed anyone that had any association with the Shah of Iran or lived a wealthy life. The quotation describes a memory that Shirin had of a conversation between her and her father when she was much younger, and before his imprisonment.  It is as follows:

In the candlelight her father resembles a Dutch painting-Rembrandt’s Old Jew Seated- whose reproduction he had kept above his desk for years. Looking at the old man painted in so many shades of brown- at his gaunt, aged hands and his downcast eyes- Shirin had once said to him, “This painting is so sad, Baba. Why do you keep it here?” “One day,” he had said, “you will understand it. And then you will find it beautiful. (Page 267)

At the beginning of the novel, Shirin had a naive perspective of the sad old man portrayed in the painting, but upon her father’s return, she finally understood the beauty in that piece of art.

At first, I was confused by these quotations.  I can understand the beauty that can be seen in old age, but the man in the picture looks sad, almost like he was worn out and had to endure many struggles in his lifetime.  It is hard for some, including myself at times, to see this and to imagine the beauty of it, because beauty is sometimes seen in perfection and inspiration. However, who is to say that that man is not perfection? There are signs of struggle on his face and in his eyes, but he represents the life of someone who has endured many pains, has seen many sights, has acquired much knowledge, and is still able to pose for a painting.

His face is much like the canvas of the painting itself. Upon it bears his strengths and weaknesses.  As the artist shades the hollows of his cheeks and the wrinkles of his forehead it is like he is painting a story. In the story, the main character has been to many lands and faced many hardships in each one, maybe even finding love, the wrinkles concealing this love now lost. Throughout his journey he has met thousands of people, learning something new from them all, whether it be acceptance, tolerance, or friendship. Their knowledge has been shared with him and has become his knowledge, his knowledge being a mixing pot of all the influences he has encountered throughout the years. With all he has endured, he sits upon the stool, vulnerable to the artist and his perceptions.

When Shirin’s father returned home after his long imprisonment, he resembled this man in many ways. His face was hollow, eyes lifeless and sad, and his face gray. His appearance was not necessarily due to a lifetime of struggles and experiences but a combination of a his life, and the few gruesome months of imprisonment. He endured pain, acquired sympathy, and make acquaintances in which stories were exchanged and secret bonds made. The experiences of being imprisoned will forever be etched on his face and body, as scars or just as a ghostly shadow often shielding his eyes as his memory wanders. The simple answer when trying to imagine the beauty of this situation is that he is beautiful because he is alive and was able to make it back to his family. There is also beauty, however, in the evolution that occurred while in the dark torturous prison.  His love and appreciation for his family flowered and reflected on all that he endured and all that he had to give up just to return to them.  The beauty of his return is not only because he is alive, but also because he actually returned to them. He suffered, and he was no longer a wealthy man, but in his final straw of life he managed to return to what he realized was most wonderful in his life.