How my Views on Abortion Evolved! By Dr. Yaw Berko

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I believe some issues are definitely first world problems. Women’s reproductive rights, unfortunately falls into that category. I have been amused at how abortion rights has so paralysed this nation to the extent the division it is creating can potentially lead to disastrous consequences on this great nation that needs to be “made great again.”

I was born to a single mother and often wondered what if my mother was so overwhelmed that she felt the need to abort me? What would have happened! No one knows for sure but I believe I would be sitting at the feet of God the Father Almighty sipping Hennessy, Black of course awaiting the Judgment day!

I was raised a Christian in the Presbyterian tradition! Anyone, who knows enough about Presbyterian values can attest that was no picnic. One point in my life I attended church every Saturday and Sunday because I also went to Seventh Day Adventist Mission School for Elementary Education! For high school I was educated according to the strict discipline of the Methodist church at Mfantsipim School (fondly called The School by old students)! There also we had bible studies 7 times a week! God knows my church attendance register is full. And although I may not be a practicing Christian, my foundation in Christian principles and way of life is solid, no doubt!

Under the influence of my early Christian upbringing, I was staunchly anti-abortion! I  maintained this stance till I started practicing medicine in Ghana where abortion is illegal unless under certain circumstances! One such loop hole is when the continuation of the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother. As a matter of fact some physicians have fallen  into the habit of loosely interpreting maternal health risk to include psychological well-being, under that pretext one could manage to get away with legal abortions. However access to safe abortions on account of these restrictions was very difficult for most lower income Ghanaians.

My experience in Ghana quickly taught me that abortion will forever exist irrespective of whether it was legal or not! I saw many women come to the gynaecology ER with all sorts of objects protruding from their vagina! Self-induced abortions were very common and most of the unsuccessful and sometimes complicated ones end up in the hospital. The lucky ones usually end up only requiring completion of the termination. As a result of these a procedure that we called EOU (Evacuation of the Uterus) was one that every  self respecting gynaecology intern could perform with their eyes closed.

The less fortunate of these women had gone to quacks who used unsterile equipment and other caustic materials to induce abortion! These procedures were complicated by septic shock, gangrene, infertility, and loss of lives, maternal lives!

On seeing all these misadventures, I asked myself a crucial question. Why am I more interested in the life of the unborn baby than that of the mothers? At this point I made a promise to myself that in spite of my personal upbringing, I will never impose my will or beliefs on others and will not use my biased religion directed thinking to guide public health policy! I have therefore advocated for the free and widespread use of contraceptives as wells as easy access to clinics that can provide good quality care to women including abortion if they so choose!


What scares me bigly here in the United States is, most of the people who oppose abortion on religious grounds also oppose the use of contraceptives and other devices that can help reduce the incidence of abortion! Go figure! I have met and talked with people who oppose abortion even in cases of rape, incest or even when the mother’s life is at risk! I heard a conservative politician Richard Mourdock say even in cases of rape, abortion should not be offered because it was “God intended!” No shit!!

Another inconsistency that still keeps me up at night is how right-wing anti-abortions conservatives hold onto the 2nd amendment like their life depends on it. Guns and abortion kill people, but we can talk all we want about our opposition to abortion but not guns! Any mention of gun control makes you ”leftist” or ”unpatriotic”. Those preaching the ideology of limited government wants to insert themselves into people’s private lives and tell them what to do instead of leaving such matters to the families and the medical personnel who are trained in such things! And to add insult to injury these same people are against public funding for early childhood education, supplementary feeding to kids of poor families and other public assistance! It’s as if right after the umbilical cord is cut they are like “fuck you, you are on your own.”

Some anti-abortionist claim adoption is a choice? Well, shouldn’t that be decided by whoever is pregnant! And if adoption is a solution why are there so many kids languishing in foster homes looking for parents to adopt them! Even in cases of adoption many Americans prefer to go outside to Russia, China, and Africa rather than adopt from home! Nothing wrong with that though!

In the 1990’s there was a drastic drop in crime rate in the United States! Many people attributed it to the good economy! One Professor at the University of Chicago in his book, Freakonomics, surmised the decline in crime rate was because of ‘Roe V Wade.

The Bible teaches us to go into the world and preach the gospel to “any creature.” So instead of sitting in the comfort of your couch by the fireplace sipping red wine and pressuring your political representative to legislate your beliefs, why not change minds by the power of persuasion! For that is how Christ did it!

Feature photo: “Anti-abortion protestors” by American Life League is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

By The YawBeesMan

A physician providing primary medical care to patients across the lifespan