While the United States’s priorities in the Middle East are primarily dictated by war, oil, and trade, social issues often escape the limelight of public awareness. Islam, a conservative force that shares roots with other Judaic religions like Christianity, is often misunderstood, thus preventing interest in the culture’s policies towards abortion. And as the religion continues to dictate policy in the Middle East, spilling into Western Europe, it may be valuable to better understand the culture associated with the right to life in these countries.
The Pew Research Forum provides a plethora of information about several major players in Middle Eastern policy. Iran and Egypt appear to have the strictest set of anti-abortion laws, having banned such practices unless the life of the mother is in danger. However, Iran has made efforts to revise and loosen such restrictions, though these efforts have been ignored by the Council of Guardians, which ensures that the laws of the nation reflect those of Islam, itself.
Turkey and Tunisia are more liberal in their abortion regulations, the former allowing abortion ten weeks after pregnancy. Additionally, fetal abnormalities and risk of the mother’s life can be cited as reasons to abort at any time. Tunisia’s policy is similar, though their time period extends to twelve weeks.
While some countries accept abortion in some circumstances, Islam has a general distaste for the practice, citing the Quran’s strict guidelines about killing, “Whosoever has spared the life of a soul, it is as though he has spared the life of all people. Whosoever has killed a soul, it is as though he has murdered all of mankind.” However, nearly all schools of Islamic law, according to the BBC, teach that abortion is permissible if the mother’s life is at risk. From here, several disagreements arise between competing sects of Islamic thought. Some scholars claim that abortion is acceptable during the first seven weeks of pregnancy, others as far as sixteen weeks. Some even permit abortions to happen if the child is believed to have a mental or physical disorder.
Islamic law varies on abortion practices. Unlike Catholicism, and other unified sects of Christianity, there is no formal doctrine that outlines the faith’s stance on the subject. As a result of the close ties between Islamic law and national law, pro-life outlooks vary between nations. Even so, it is important to note the region’s general negative outlook towards the practice. As the world grows closer, via globalization, it is important to recognize key future players in the movement for life, and the Middle East serves as a fascinating ground, that should be studied, where policy and morality intersect.
The valuable information about abortion in each aforementioned country can be found at:
As the United States continues to battle the horrifying consequences of Roe v. Wade, Ireland is approaching a similar crossroad. Faced with its own landmark decision on May 25, the country could allow women to abort children up to twelve weeks after pregnancy.
The Irish Eighth Amendment proclaims that, “The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” Passed in 1983, the controversial law is now being called into question. According to The Independent, a United Kingdom based news source, the referendum of 1983 was supported by over 66% of voters, with 33% opposed. Today, both sides appear even, with a slight favor towards repealing the law.
This reversal is not sudden, rather it comes after years of modifications that have loosened the amendment’s effects. In 1992, for example, additional amendments were passed that allowed for women to travel abroad for abortions. In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Ireland’s stanch stance against abortion, criticizing it as violating human rights that were outlined in the European Convention for Human Rights. 2013 marked the final major stride in Ireland’s quest to liberalize its laws, as scenarios were outlined that would allow for an abortion to occur if the mother’s life was at risk. While this sounds reasonable to many, such risks include the possibility of suicide, which could be technically claimed by any person seeking an abortion.
Several sources report a confidence from the repeal side of the vote. Many corporations, including Google and Facebook, have stripped foreign pro-life groups from advertising in defense of the unborn. While these media companies have also banned pro-choice causes from doing the same, this decision seems to have primarily impacted the former.
Making matters worse, support from the religious arm of the country has severely diminished. Census numbers report a steep decline from 94% Catholicity in the 1950s to 72% in 2016. A traditionally conservative country, Ireland has recently embraced numerous “progressive” policies, despite the long-term negative effects such policies have caused in other nations. The decline of religion has been tied to what could be considered “counter-culture” movements across the country, as many of these developments seem to be directed against the Catholic Church, amongst other traditionalist institutions.
Matters seem bleak for the fate of the unborn in Ireland, which will be determined as May 25 approaches.
5/25/18 Update: According to The Washington Post, exit polls from two well-regarded sources, Ipsos MRBI and RTE, showed that nearly 70% of voters chose to repeal the Eighth Amendment (68% and 69.4%, respectively). Elections officials are expected to release a final vote tally tomorrow (5/26).
President Trump is considering a series of actions that would significantly cripple Planned Parenthood, following through his commitment to protecting the unborn. While the President had stated his interest in aiding the Pro-Life movement at events such as the Washington, D.C. March for Life, he did not mention specific strategies for accomplishing his goal. This time, the President has a plan.
Title X, also known as the “Family Planning Program,” provides families, especially those of low-income background, with health services and resources. While abortion does not fall under the programs that Title X supports, Planned Parenthood still receives over $50 million a year from it, according to LifeSitenews. This is because the organization is listed as a family and health program, and claims to use the money for non-abortion services. Under President Ronald Reagan, Title X was barred from groups that promoted abortions. However, the Clinton administration eagerly overturned Reagan’s mandate. Thus, President Trump seeks to return to the Reagan-era restrictions.
Specifically, the President seeks to focus on the separation of Title X funds from practices that harm the unborn. Since the Clinton administration, Pro-Choice groups have not been not required to strictly report their spending of government money, which has enabled Planned Parenthood and its associates to funnel federal money to its abortion clinics. According to the National Review, under Trump’s restrictions, Planned Parenthood would be forced to financially separate its Title X operations from any activities involving abortions. However, since Planned Parenthood’s abortion services are integral to its finances, some analysts claim that it would be impossible, or at least extremely difficult, to meet this separation. If Planned Parenthood refuses to comply, it will be denied its funding from Title X.
Critics claim that this decision will severely inhibit access to women’s health care, as Planned Parenthood provides services that lie outside the boundaries of abortions. However, the Trump administration stated that “non-abortion” health centers greatly outnumber their counterparts at Planned Parenthood by more than 20 to 1, assuring families that they will still have ample access to a wide array of providers. Additionally, many opponents of Planned Parenthood believe that the group’s alleged allocation of Title X funds to abortions are a misuse of tax dollars that are meant to be spent on tackling illnesses and health issues.
The Trump administration has not spared words when opposing the misdeeds and moral crimes of Planned Parenthood and similar organizations. Now it seems that the President is closer to taking action against such groups, though it is also up to voters to support and pressure the White House to follow through with its words.
Federal funding, in any society, inevitably leads to governments making moral decisions, often at the frustration of opposing groups. Canada’s struggle between a Pro-Choice government and Pro-Life organizations aptly demonstrates the complications that arise from such funding.
The Canadian government has been accused by many of infringing on the basic rights of conscious that belong to its citizens. As summer approaches, so do the annual grants given to groups who seek to hire workers. To meet the requirements for receiving money, a document must be signed endorsing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes a pact of non-discrimination against groups of various backgrounds. While this seems reasonable, there is one part that has garnered massive attention, reading, “These include reproductive rights.” This is the portion that hundreds of organizations have taken issue with.
The wording of the document has aroused great nervousness amongst several groups, who are accusing the government of forcing them to endorse a Pro-Choice stance. Global News reports that over 1,500 applications have been denied funding, a massive increase since last year’s contract, which included no such agreement and resulted in 126 rejections. Several religious and pro-life groups cite their refusal to comply with the document’s request as the reason they were not allowed funding.
An Angus Reid Institute Survey, cited by CBC News, reveals that Canadians largely oppose denying funding to such groups if such institutions do not direct the money towards Pro-Life activities. However, a majority of those polled do believe that grant money should not, under any circumstance, be used to fund such endeavors. The debate continues today and while representatives have stated that they are not looking into directly amending their decision, they are open to suggestions and feedback from the public.
The freedom of speech is a fundamental right that many nations enjoy, though the future of this liberty has come increasingly under question, due to the actions of large media corporations. Facebook, Google, and Amazon have all recently taken steps to silence Pro-Life messages across their respective platforms.
Weeks before a May 25 vote that could potentially legalize abortion in Ireland, Google and Facebook made the decision to ban all website ads that are related to the upcoming referendum, with the latter claiming, “We feel the spirit of this approach is also consistent with the Irish electoral law that prohibits campaigns from accepting foreign donations.” According to National Review, an immense amount of Pro-Life advertisements come from outside countries, such as the United States and Canada. The decision to censor website adds relating to the referendum was based on rejecting international monetary assistance. Several critics have accused these media giants of intentionally swaying public opinion through censorship.
While Facebook and Google’s decision primarily pertains to advertisers, YouTube, also owned by Google, has gone a step further to censoring user-based ideas. Heartbeat International is an organization that uses social media to promote the Pro-Life movement. Specifically, its YouTube channel had been encouraging women to take Abortion Reversal Pills. These substances counteract the effects of abortion pills that deprive and starve the child in the womb. The reversal pills can be used to save the child from the effects of its counterpart. This week, it was announced that the channel had been banned, with all videos removed from the website. According to Christian Headlines, YouTube stated that its platform, “doesn’t allow content that encourages or promotes violent or dangerous acts that have an inherent risk of serious physical harm or death.” Heartbeat International is currently working to contest YouTube’s decision.
Lastly, Amazon has announced to pull the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) from its list of approved charities on Amazon Smile, a service that allocates portions of certain purchases to a charity of the customer’s choice. According to LifeNews, the online juggernaut channels the Southern Poverty Law Center to assess its list of approved charitable organizations. Apparently, the ADF, a conservative organization that touts its defense of life, as well as religious liberties and free speech, has been deemed as unfit for Amazon’s partner program. As of now, customers are deprived of the choice to give to this organization.
Every corporation has the right to regulate their product, as they see fit. However, many critics claim that it is unethical for companies to silence opinions by censoring or excluding certain viewpoints, while supporters state that corporations should limit discussion about controversial issues. As an increasing amount of Pro-Life voices are quashed by media giants, the debate only further grows. The line between freedom of speech and commercial enterprise has been blurred by the massive user-base of social media. Only time will tell if these decisions will lead to a larger discourse in the national community.