Each year in Indonesia millions of women become pregnant unintentionally, and many choose to end their pregnancies despite the fact that abortion is generally illegal. Like their counterparts in many developing countries where abortion is stigmatized and highly restricted, Indonesian women often seek clandestine procedures performed by untrained providers, and resort to methods that include ingesting unsafe substances and undergoing harmful abortive massage.
It is estimated that about two million abortions occurred in Indonesia in 2000. This number is derived from a study of a sample of health care facilities in six regions, and it includes an unknown, though probably small, number of spontaneous abortions (miscarriages). However, this is the most comprehensive estimate currently available for the country. The estimate translates to an annual rate of 37 abortions for every 1,000 women of reproductive age (15–49 years). This rate is high compared with that of Asia as a whole: Regionally, about 29 abortions occur for every 1,000 women of reproductive age. While the level of induced abortion is somewhat uncertain, there is clear evidence that of the 4.5 million births that took place in Indonesia each year around the time of that study, 760,000 (17%) were unwanted or mistimed.
Based on the elaboration above, it is interesting enough to present a topic concerning abortion. On this occasion there will be several points to discuss further: abortion in the perspective of Islam, Christian, medicine and Indonesian Law.
Abortion in the Perspective of Islam
While Islam permits preventing pregnancy for valid reasons, it does not allow doing violence to it once it occurs. Muslim jurists have agreed unanimously that after the fetus is completely formed and has been given a soul, abortion is haram. It is also a crime, the commission of which is prohibited to the Muslim because it constitutes an offense against a complete, living human being. Jurists insist that the payment of blood money (diya) becomes incumbent if the baby is aborted alive and then died, while a fine of lesser amount is to be paid if it is aborted dead.
However, there is one exceptional situation. If, say the jurists, after the baby is completely formed, it is reliably shown that the continuation of the pregnancy would necessarily result in the death of the mother, then, in accordance with the general principle of the Shari`ah, that of choosing the lesser of two evils, abortion must be performed. The reason for this is that the mother is the origin of the fetus; moreover, her life is well-established, with duties and responsibilities, and she is also a pillar of the family. It would not be possible to sacrifice her life for the life of a fetus which has not yet acquired a personality and which has no responsibilities or obligations to fulfill.
Moreover, even after ensoulment - at which point, the fetus is regarded as having equal right with its mother - in the case of conflict, "this dilemma is resolved by the general principle of the Shari'ah: choosing the lesser of two evils. Rather than losing both lives, the life of one should be given preference over the other," - i.e., the mother's life.
While Islamic tradition thus evinces some diversity of views, the general trend (if it can be called that) is clearly against abortion. And so it can be concluded by quoting the Qur'an as defending the sanctity of life:
If anyone slays a human being unless it be (in punishment) for murder or for spreading corruption on earth - it shall be as if he had slain the whole of mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as if he had saved the lives of the whole of mankind
From this verse it is evident that every human being has the right to be born, the right to be, and the right to live as long as Allah (SWT) permits. No one may be deprived of life except for a legitimate crime as discussed above. The fetus is regarded by all schools of Islamic law has having the right to life, as indicated by the fact that the death sentence on a pregnant woman can be carried out only after she has given birth.
This right to life is absolute in Islam: it cannot be overridden, even in cases of rape or concerns regarding fetal deformity.
Some Medieval theologians and lawyers permitted contraception and abortion in the first four months of pregnancy - i.e., "before the fetus is 'infused with life'." This view, however, is overshadowed by the literalist school of law now prominent in the Middle East, which absolutely forbids contraception and abortion. They argue in favor of a less restrictive policy, in part as it more faithfully reflects the Medieval teaching and practice, and partly for the sake of more effective population control.
Abortion in the Perspective of Christianity
It is God who has made us and not we ourselves. That is to say, our lives are gifts from God. Because he has willed us we are freed to live. Our lives therefore are to be grasped in thanksgiving to God. We are to see Him as the author of life, and instead of seeking to fill our lives with pleasure, we are to live them according to the will of Him who made us. Certainly this would suggest that the greatest good in our lives should not be human happiness, financial security, freedom from hardship or pain, but quite simply life lived according to the will of God. Any other ultimate goal is wrought in the same sin that caused Eve to forget why she was made and led her to the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
Because God is Creator we are also given an insight into how we should see others. That is, we should see them as people who, in virtue of their creation, and with or without their own personal assent, belong to God. That is to say their lives are not things we can weigh in a scale of value (values such as social utility, state of development, wholeness of body, etc.). No, their lives are such that we should see them as having been called by God into existence. That is, their lives are gifts from God. And this means that as fellow humans we are to respect others not only for what they are in themselves (many of our fellow human beings do not seem to be very much in and of themselves!), but we are to treat them with a certain awe, for they belong to God, they are His, they come from His hand.
Thus we can see that the contemporary attitude that a woman or a family member is free to decide whether or not to abort an unborn child is simply a denial that God is really Creator, that life is really his gift. It is a perverted corollary to the axiom of Satan that man is his own creator. It is a twist which suggests that because we are really the authors of life there is a time in the life of a human when we are permitted to be god to that human, when we are permitted to decide whether or not to take his or her life. As Christians, of course, we know that this is a lie, and that God requires us to oppose it at every juncture with the graceful proclamation that the love of God has called us into existence, and that it even now sustains us and permits us to live, and that we are therefore required to come to a new love and respect for all people: even the weak, the elderly infirm, the retarded, the sick ----- and the unborn!!!
This means quite simply that Christians are forbidden to practice induced abortion, unless the life of the mother is endangered, or rape is involved. Even in the two latter critical situations it is not altogether clear that the unborn child ought to be aborted. For instance, in the case of rape, the child is innocent of the crime. Or in the case where the mother's physical life is actually endangered by the birth of the child questions must be raised. For instance we must ask to what extent the mother's life is really endangered. In our nation, for instance, given modern medical insights and techniques this situation will almost never arise. Ultimately, the only real rule of thumb which can be given in these two crises situations is this: God's will must be sought in prayer.
Abortion in Medical Perspective
Recent estimates on abortion-associated mortality in Indonesia are unavailable. The World Health Organization estimates that unsafe abortion is responsible for 14% of maternal deaths in Southeast Asia, and 16% of maternal deaths in regions of Southeast Asia that have highly restrictive abortion laws (including Indonesia).
The rate of complications from unsafe abortion is likely far higher than that of deaths. Again, the rate for Indonesia is unknown, but in Southeast Asia, it is estimated that three out of every 1,000 women aged 15–44 are hospitalized each year for abortion-related complications.12 This translates to about 130 hospitalizations for every 1,000 women who obtain an unsafe abortion. The true complication rate, which includes complications for which women do not seek treatment at a hospital, is believed to be much higher than the hospitalization rate.
The most common abortion complications are severe bleeding, infection and poisoning from substances used to induce abortion; many women also experience genital
and abdominal injuries and uterine perforation.
Because so many abortions in Indonesia are performed by unskilled providers and an additional unknown number are self-induced, the rates of both medical complications and maternal deaths from unsafe abortion are expected to be high. And because abortions performed by lay providers tend to be less costly than those performed by health care professionals under hygienic conditions, poor women—who may not be able to afford the
services of a trained provider— likely suffer a disproportionate share of abortion complications.
Abortion in the Perspective of Indonesian Law
The interpretation of Law in Indonesia about abortion clearly states that abortion is categorized as a crime, unless done with a medical indication. Medical Law No. 23 of the year 1992 explains that, though not explicitly, abortion can be committed with strongly-recommended medical reasons (abortus provocatus medicinalis).
The law for this is Chapter 15 the verse 1 of the Law. “For emergency as an effort to save the life of the mother and/or the fetus a medical action can be taken.” However, it is not explained about the kinds of medical indications why it is allowed to commit abortion concerning the safety of the pregnant mother and/or the fetus. Perhaps it is because of the interpretation that the medical action is taken according to the authority if discretion owned by the medical expert.
Every competent medical practitioner has his own authority to determine the standard condition that needs the action while keeps considering the safety aspect of the mother. Chapter 345 of the KUHP states “A woman that deliberately aborts her baby or tells others to do so, threatened by an imprisonment at most 4 years.” Not only will the woman be sentenced, but also the medical labor be sentenced by Chapter 349 KUHP with an extra 1/3 from the sanction in Chapter 346 and s/he will not be allowed to work as a medical practitioner any longer.
Basically,. abortion issue relates tightly with the reproduction rights of women. The existence of a misunderstanding in the interpretation of forbidding abortion can kill the right of reproduction for women. Meanwhile, based on UU No. 39 of the year 1999, the right of reproduction for women is a part of Human Rights and protected by law. So, it is worthy to fight for. If the regulation on abortion is made and implemented in Indonesia, the morality aspect must also be considered.
Based on the above explanation, we can conclude that abortion is a controversial issue on which some people agree and some others disagree. Seen from the perspectives of Islam, Christianity, medical ethics, and Indonesian law, we hold with those who disagree on abortion. Abortion can cause the worse than the better. In other words, we should dare to say NO to abortion.