In Ethiopia, the argument over abortion is rarely waged with much reference to reason. When the issue at stake is whether to legalize it, many argue the moral issue rather than the simple legal question of who should make the decision. The choices, ranging from quick abortions to fatal poisoning and keeping the baby are always made with little outside help. One of the women interviewed decided to give motherhood a try!

The pressure society places on young women who have children out of wedlock is enormous. Because abortions are virtually taboo, the decision to keep the baby or terminate the pregnancy is often made unaided.

When a young unmarried girl discovers that she is pregnancy, she is often forced to struggle with difficult questions about life, responsibility and sometimes death, should she keep the baby or have an abortion? Should the reaction of the baby’s father have any bearing on this decision? Should she tell her parents and risk losing their emotional and financial support? Is she ready for the devastating effect having a baby or an abortion will have on her life?

Here is what three of many interviewed women had to say:

ANNA SAMSON (16) a clergyman’s daughter brought up in a Christian family had been looking at her underwear for a week now wondering whether her period would come. She suspected that she was pregnant but was hoping against hope that she was not! With no source of income to support a growing child, her mind was almost made up as to what she would do should be confirm her suspicious. “ I decided to have an abortion, and opted not to tell the father of the child” she says. He was a student and had no job and prospects and she felt that it would not help the situation in any way had he known. “ Once I made my mind.” She recalls “All I could think of was how soon I could end the whole thing.” She did not want her parents to find out, so with the help of a friend, she managed to raise 39 USD to pay for the secret operation, which was successful. She doesn’t think that she did anything wrong, given the situation she was in. 
“If we died and slipped into oblivion, may be the fate would be kinder.” This is the thought that first came into the mind of 18-years old KABULA MAKOYE before she killed her two-day-old baby girl by throwing her into a pit. She felt that she could no longer bear the cruelty of her for having given birth out of wedlock. “My mother was abusing me every time with claims that I have disgraced them. Recalls Kabula who dropped out of school, got pregnant while working as a bar-maid. She was not ready for the baby because poverty surrounded their family and she could not tell who the baby’s father was (as a bar-maid she had almost six casual boyfriends).
“I think I am pregnant” 19 years old MARIA OLARE said to her boyfriend early in 2001. She was apprehensive because every morning, she woke up feeling tired and sick. She was not the only one that suspected pregnancy; three months into it, her mother Susan sensed that something was wrong. Being the eldest girl in her family, she feared that she would be accused of setting a bad example for her younger sister. And how would her strict father react? “We were great friends, but when he learned of it from his wife that their elder daughter was pregnant, he was speechless. Completely changed.” She says.
Although she felt guilty, she believed that her father’s reaction was excessive. Not once did she consider terminating the pregnancy. Reasoned discussion of these issues should make the choices a little clearer for the girls forced to make these tough decisions. Unsafe abortion remains a reality for many Ethiopian women and will remain so until safe abortion is more accessible across the country. 
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