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Honduras Poised to Put Women in Jail for Taking Morning-After Pill

The topic of contraceptives tends to bring about debate, regardless of where, when, or how it is brought up. Some people believe that contraceptives are a positive thing to reinforce, while others believe purely abstinence should be reinforced. In Honduras, the debate about the morning-after pill is currently taking place. Within the next few days, Honduras will decide whether or not to pass a law that will cause women to be put in jail if they use the emergency morning-after contraceptive. According to Avaaz.org, there are some congress members in Honduras that disagree with the law, believing it to be too extreme. But, where should the line be drawn? And who should decide where that line starts and stops? The Honduran government is a democratic constitutional republic, a government system quite similar to the United States. Why, then, should the president, or any part of the government, be able to choose whether a woman prevents a pregnancy or not? The debate among the Honduran government is very relevant, but is not getting a lot of attention. There should be some kind of light shed on this topic, because, it is very important that women realize that this suggested law is unethical and unfair to them. It is threatening their independence and allowing politics to take control of their bodies.

Student Researcher: Sarah Shonty, Indian River State College

Source:

“No Jail Time for Birth Control,” AVAAZ.org, March 15, 2012 http://www.avaaz.org/en/no_prison_for_contraception/?fp

Faculty Instructor:  Elliot D. Cohen, Indian River State College

Discussion

The Honduran government is intensely debating whether or not to pass the extreme law of jailing women who take the morning-after pill. Not only will they put the women who take the pill in jail, the government will also incarcerate the doctors who prescribe it and anyone who sells it. If this law were passed it would prevent doctors and pharmacists from doing what they are trained to do, and it would prevent women from being extra careful and responsible when it comes to intercourse. There are many reasons why this law would be unethical if it is passed.

As stated in the synopsis, the question of where the line should be drawn was brought up, as was the question of who gets to decide where that line starts and stops. Some congressmen involved in the Honduran government are against the proposed law but many of them do not want to go against the religious belief that abortion is wrong, and the morning-after contraceptive is being viewed as equivalent to an abortion. The first issue with this is that the government should not be intertwining politics and religion. Although it is hard to separate personal beliefs from what is best for people as a whole, or what the people want, as a politician it is necessary to do that. The type of government that Honduras has stands to represent the people, and what they want. Meshing religion and the proposed law changes the whole atmosphere of the debate. It is no longer about what the people want, but what God would want people to do.

Second, this law goes against human rights by putting women in jail for trying to prevent pregnancies. The morning-after pill does not abort a pregnancy after an egg has already been fertilized and attached to the uterus. What the pill actually does is thicken the wall of the uterus after an accident occurs, making it very hard for an egg to attach to the uterus. With this law implemented, a woman who is financially, emotionally, and physically unprepared for a child would not have any way of preventing a pregnancy, had an accident occurred. This new law would also prevent rape victims from being able to take action against an unwanted pregnancy caused by rape. This is unfair to the rape victim to have no option, and to have to be reminded daily of the tragedy she had to endure. The fact that the Honduran government is trying to pass this law that dictates how women get to handle their body is not right. Every woman should have control over what happens to her body. The debated law can be looked at as anti-feminist for not allowing women to make a choice about their own bodies, and for not protecting women from pregnancies that were forced upon them through rape. This law would not represent the type of government that Honduras has.

The debate in Honduras of whether or not to pass the law that will put women in jail for taking the emergency morning-after contraceptive is an important issue. The Honduran women should be able to prevent unwanted pregnancy without being incarcerated or punished for it. The government serves to represent what the people want, as well as protect the people. The proposed law against the morning-after pill is unethical and does not exemplify what the Honduran government symbolizes.

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