Khushi, an 18-year-old has just gotten out of her bathroom, all tensed. The reason for her stress? Well, someone her age might have endless reasons for inducing stress. This, though, was not a run-of-the-mill kind of stress; she had just found out that she was pregnant! She felt like her world had come to an end. The age that she is of, she has as much clue about an unplanned pregnancy as a toddler who plays with a hot iron
Soon, mustering up all the courage she can, she talks to her parents about it. Her parents coming from a conservative way of thinking, don’t take the news as they probably should. What’s worse? She thinks she may have to deal with a child she never wanted in the first place.
The Indian society has always been against the concept of abortions. And this belief is what gives rise to misconceptions about abortion. But what are abortions?
An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by evacuation of the product of conception. This can be done by medical or surgical methods. An abortion can either be spontaneous or induced. An abortion that takes place spontaneously is known as a miscarriage. An abortion can also be instigated on purpose, and it is known as an induced abortion. When performed legally and safely, abortions do not increase the risk of long-term mental or physical problems. In contrast, unsafe abortions (those performed by unskilled individuals, with hazardous equipment, or in unsanitary facilities) may even cause deaths.
The World Health Organization recommends that safe and legal abortions be made available to all women. The WHO approves of safe abortion. Why then should women not be allowed to decide whether or not they want to continue with a pregnancy?
Pregnancies may be terminated if its continuation would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or there is substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously disabled.
Now we know what abortion actually means. But, is the woman wanting an abortion, undertaking a crime when she chooses to give up on the foetus growing inside of her? Is she really doing something so wrong, that our societies and our communities denunciate her for doing it? Has the woman herself got no say in wanting to decide if she’s ready to become a mother not? What right do we have as a society to condemn a woman wanting to terminate a pregnancy?
In spite of the evolution of mankind, we still don’t seem to have evolved with times. Women are considered inferior in society and their opinions do not seem to matter. Although it is a very common experience during women’s reproductive lives, abortion is still looked upon as wrong or deviant. This is known as Abortion Stigma.
Each and every woman in this world should have a right to decide whether she wants to continue with the pregnancy or not. It should also not become an alternative for contraception or family planning methods, neither should sex-selective abortion happen under the garb of abortion. However, it is about time a woman stands up for herself and makes her voice heard. Abortion is not a crime. Each and every person in this world has a right to choose what is good for them and what is not; and this definitely includes women wanting to opt for safe abortion services.
Mumbai Branch, FPA India