Family Planning Association of India launches ‘Antara’ – a three-monthly progestin-only contraceptive injection.

IMG-20170707-WA0013

FPA India welcomes the introduction of three new modern, reversible contraceptives injection DMPA (Antara), Centchroman Pill (Chhaya) and Progestin Only Pill (PoP) in the National Family Planning Programme. This is indeed a step in the right direction to expand contraceptive choice and make modern contraceptives accessible and affordable to women to meet their reproductive health goals. The roll-out of these new contraceptives has been initiated in a phased manner across public health facilities in the country by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare since last year.

On the occasion of World Population Day, FPA India Mumbai Branch, in collaboration with the Public Health Department of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, has launched ‘Antara’ a three-monthly progestin-only contraceptive injection, at the Awabai Wadia Health Centre.

It is our endeavour to support health care providers in the public as well as private health sector in delivering high quality injectable contraceptive services so that eligible clients can choose and use contraceptives with confidence to enhance the quality of their reproductive and sexual lives.

 

About ‘Antara’

This contraceptive injection is composed of a synthetic female hormone (progestin) known as Depo Medroxy Progesterone Acetate (DMPA). Every dose of the injection contains 150 mg of DMPA as an aqueous suspension of one ml and needs to be given every three months as an intramuscular injection.

When the prescribed dosing schedule is followed, injection DMPA is considered to have a failure rate of less than one pregnancy per 100 women using the method over the first year. The effectiveness largely depends on regular and timely follow-up visits for re-injection. As commonly used, pregnancy rate is about 3 pregnancies per 100 women over a year.

Like for every other reversible, modern method of contraception, clients will be counselled about the safety, reversibility, effectiveness, dosage, repeat injection visits, side-effects and warning signs of ‘Antara’ (inj DMPA, also known as Depo-Provera) and also informed that they are free to switch to any other method any time they wish to.

‘Antara’ should be made widely available to women who need an effective contraceptive method and who may not be medically eligible to use other effective hormonal methods.Most women can safely use ‘Antara’, including women who breast-feed, as early as 6 weeks post-partum and if the woman is not breastfeeding, it can be administered within 6 weeks postpartum as well. Thus, this method of contraception can also be positioned to fulfill the unmet need for contraception by post-partum women who may be undecided yet about choosing a long term method to limit their family size or for those women who may indeed have short-term needs for an effective yet reversible, woman oriented method of contraception.

 

Supporting informed choice and voluntary decision-making

Every woman has the right to choose and use a method of contraception that is best suited to her needs and lifestyle. However it is also the duty of the service provider to screen her for medical eligibility to use that method and ensure that the method is safe for her. Women need to be educated and empowered so that they can control their fertility and have access to a wide range of contraceptives suited to their age and reproductive life stage. Careful profiling of the client and method-specific counselling cannot be emphasized more, before offering injectable contraceptives. Service providers need to be equipped with updated technical information, service delivery guidelines and job aids so that they are able to offer an informed choice of injectable contraceptives and quality services to support use.

 

The FPA India experience with Injectable DMPA

FPAI believes in and has strongly advocated for expansion in the basket of contraceptive choices in the National Family Planning Programme, so that poor and needy women are not denied of choice due to affordability issues. Injectable DMPA has been a part of the contraceptive method-mix provided through FPA India clinics for nearly two decades now, ever since this method was approved for use in India in the year 1993.

Providing injectable DMPA in the outreach during special service delivery sessions, capacity building of various cadres of service providers through technical updates with an emphasis on counselling skills, development of a comprehensive tool kit for various cadres of service providers to support informed choice of injectable contraceptives, training of providers in using the tool kit and sharing of best practices have contributed to a steady uptake of this method from FPA India service delivery points.

IMG-20170707-WA0012

Advertisements

EXPERIENCES OF PEER EDUCATORS IN MURHU.

DSCN0606

 

Chandmani Tuti,

Peer educator,

Murhu – Jharkhand, FPA India

I work as a peer educator in the Murhu project of Family Planning Association of India. Before working with FPA India, concepts such as abortion, contraception, copper-T, etc. were alien to me.  Yes, I had heard of ‘condom’ somewhere, but how it is used, its benefits, were unknown to me. I didn’t even know about STDs and their risks. When Family Planning Association of India came to Murhu, they explained to us about the basket of choices, women’s right to abortion, and everything associated to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Abortion, especially, was something nobody spoke about or even accessed because of the stigma associated with ‘ending a pregnancy’. All the information provided by FPA India, helped broaden my viewpoint and motivated me to join them as a peer educator. Now, I support abortion as a choice and even tell people in my community, about how it is alright to opt for abortion in case of an unwanted pregnancy. I am glad that I am getting a chance to learn so much from FPA India.

DSCN0804

 

Dolly Devi,

Peer educator,

Murhu – Jharkhand, FPA India

 I work with FPA India as a peer educator in the Khunti district of Jharkhand. Earlier, I used to consider abortion a sin and did not have much knowledge about contraception either. But, it was the information and services provided by FPA India that put an end to my superstitious beliefs. And now, I take so much pride in associating myself with FPA India and talking about its initiatives in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights. As a peer educator, I work towards destigmatising abortion in our village, especially by educating young women and newly-weds. Every time I manage to convince someone to opt for contraception, it gives me a lot of happiness because I feel like I am helping in bringing about a change.

DSCN0836

Stigma around Abortion – A Rural Perspective.

I belong to a small village, Murhu, in the state of Jharkhand, India. There was a time when nobody in my village knew anything at all about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Within this framework, something like Abortion, was either unknown or unspoken of. Today, I feel glad that in a society which inhibits conversations on abortion, I have a chance to share my thoughts and experiences, on the stigma related to abortion.

I remember how initially, I had heard the word ‘abortion’ but had no idea about its meaning and the procedures involved. FPA India did a 20-month-long intervention in our village, where Comprehensive Sexuality Education was provided to a total of 1,184 young people, from which 704 people were in school and 480 were in out-of-school settings. Through Comprehensive Sexuality Education sessions conducted by FPA India in our village, I received information about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, including those around safe abortion. It helped me understand the subject better and inspired me to join FPA India as a youth volunteer, where I even started educating my friends and community people about these issues. On speaking to many people, I realised that men think of abortion negatively. They may not have any knowledge about Sexual and Reproductive Health and needs of women but they will still consider abortion as something bad. Men may not know anything about women’s body, reproductive system, or menstrual cycle. They don’t even know what abortion is, or why women should be allowed to access abortion. Not just this, they have a bare minimum knowledge of their own body. In our village, women are not allowed to even take simple decisions of the family. How then would they be allowed to make an important choice such as abortion? This is the mindset that FPA India, along with us, the local volunteers, wants to change for good.

Safe abortion services may be difficult to find in a rural area like ours, as compared to urban areas. Hence, making sure that there is equal access to safe abortion services becomes extremely essential. I have seen in TV shows, how women from urban areas go to doctors and get an abortion done. But in our village and many other rural areas, due to the stigma around abortion, women don’t openly talk about it. And those who really need to, end up going to quacks and getting abortion done using unsafe methods. Before learning these details about abortion, my friends and I used to consider abortion a sin like the rest of our society. However, I am very grateful to FPA India for giving me an opportunity to get accurate information on abortion services. This helped clear my misconceptions and enhance my knowledge on abortion.

FPA India’s ongoing ‘Abortion Stigma’ project in Murhu has helped address the stigma related to abortion in our region. I, along with other male volunteers, talk to boys and men about abortion and help them clarify their myths and misconceptions about abortion, too. I believe that stigma related to abortion is due to the lack of knowledge and information among people. This prevents them from accessing safe services for abortion.

After the positive intervention by FPA India in our village, I can see that girls know about contraception and even opt for contraceptive pills to prevent pregnancy. FPA India not just provides counselling and sexuality education, but also has made provisions for us, villagers, to access medical services, including abortion. Also, while being educated on abortion methods, we have also been told by them that abortion is not an alternative to contraception. Contraception is very essential and in case of failure, women should be able to opt for safe abortion services. And sex-selective abortion is something we shouldn’t even think of, is what we have learnt and what we explain while working with communities. We need to educate both girls and boys about their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) to enable them to make the right choices. There are many like me who have joined hands with FPA India in changing this deep-rooted belief about abortion, so that every woman in our village has equal access to safe abortion services.

 

Sanjeev Kumar

Youth Champion,

Murhu – Jharkhand, FPA India

Laws or Flaws?

Abortion is the termination of an unwanted pregnancy. But is it perceived so in India? Well, definitely not. In India, people perceive abortion as a ‘crime’. However, it would not be correct to say that our government and people have not taken any initiative to change this deep-rooted belief. Many campaigns and policies were launched by organisations and activists to bring about a change in the way abortion is perceived in society. But the fact is that in spite of many endeavours there is still stigma around abortion.

The MTP act of 1971, is necessary in a country like ours where unsafe abortions are rampant. However, at implementation level, there are many loopholes in the act that need to be fulfilled. The act specifically mentions that in case of contraceptive failure, a ‘married woman’ can opt for safe abortion services. But, what about the unmarried women? As a society, can we deny the fact that casual sex or pre-marital sex is a choice anyone can make? Apart from this, it also addresses abortion specifically as a surgical procedure that needs to be performed at a clinic, when in fact there are other methods (such as pills) which also help terminate pregnancies safely and may be performed even at home on adequate dosage suggested by the medical practitioner. Besides, the qualification that the MTP act mentions while defining a medical practitioner, narrows the possibility of ANMs and other experienced doctors from providing these services. Hence, many individuals and organisations including FPA India, are fighting for amendments in the MTP act for better implementation.

In the well-known case of Suchita Srivastava and Anr v/s Chandigarh Administration, a bench of three judges granted a mentally retarded 19 to 20-year-old woman, the right to terminate her pregnancy of above 20 weeks. Similarly, in July 2016, the Supreme Court (SC) allowed a 26-year-old alleged rape victim to abort her 24-week-old foetus with several abnormalities. There have been such cases from past years where the SC had has allowed to terminate pregnancies of more than twenty weeks. But, these cases were called ‘Exceptions to the rule’.

In another case in Mumbai, Haresh and Niketa Mehta knocked the door of the court for the termination of 26-week-old pregnancy as the foetus was diagnosed with the congenital heart disease. But, Bombay High Court (HC) rejected the couple’s plea by saying “medical experts had not categorically stated the child would suffer from serious handicaps”. However the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Was the decision of the Bombay HC right? It was in fact, a violation of the fundamental right mentioned under article 21 of the Indian Constitution which states “Right to life and liberty’’.

In the above case, the court’s decision was risking the life of the petitioner and also affecting her mental health. Setting a limit for the termination of a pregnancy of up to 20 weeks is a shackle to the liberty and freedom of the human right of women. When the MTP act was legalised, we did not have adequate facilities to diagnose any defect in the foetus. But today, we have all the facilities to detect abnormalities or terminate pregnancies between and beyond 24-26 weeks. However, the irony is that as per the law, a pregnancy can be terminated only up to 20 weeks.

A common issue raised in society is “whether a mother has a right to abortion vis-a-vis the right to life of the unborn”. However, how could a woman be forced into taking up a responsibility she is not yet ready for? If a woman does not want to continue with her pregnancy, it should be her decision and should be respected by everyone. But, sex-selective abortion is very much illegal under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act of 1994 and should not be supported in any way.

There is a thin line in the interpretations of the MTP and the PCPNDT Acts. Moreover, there are ambiguities in the interpretation of the laws by regulating agencies. Many medical practitioners are not able to state the right reason for the abortion. In our country, many sex-selective abortions are forced upon women by their families, under the garb of ‘Unwanted Pregnancies’. At the same time, many truly unwanted pregnancies are interpreted and questioned by regulating agencies for sex-selective abortion. The PCPNDT Act, however, specifically disallows ‘sex determination’, while the MTP Act gives women some liberty to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Hence, both these acts work in unison to give women the right to abort in case of unwanted pregnancies without sex-determination or selection. And those who do opt for sex-selection, should be rightly punished by law.

A woman should be empowered with her sexual rights and choices, both, in her interest. Healthy and safe living is the most basic Human Right and everyone is entitled to have this right. Delivering a child should be a happy experience for every mother, BUT, only when she wants it. Hence, her right to choose what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, should be protected in good faith.

 

Aditi Anand

Intern, FPA India

Giving Abortion A Thought.

Abortion is a choice available to us, for an unwanted pregnancy. In earlier times, abortion or contraceptives were not spoken about and neither were these services made available easily. This was a reason why women had no option but to continue with unwanted pregnancies, which would take a toll on their health. A woman runs the family. She has to think from a financial perspective as well. In earlier days, she wasn’t able to engage in family planning because the methods and services weren’t available to her.

In today’s times, women have started thinking about and taking care of their health and even started planning their future. Married women especially, have realised the importance of a smaller family and the need to limit the number of children. This has built a woman’s strength and will-power to take decisions such as opting for contraception or getting an abortion done for an unwanted pregnancy.

Decisions regarding abortion depend upon situations such as mental or physical health of the woman, potentional disability to the foetus, contraceptive failure, pregnancy as a result of sexual abuse, etc. However, if abortion is a result of sex-determination and the need for a male child, then it is an absolute no-no.

The reason society takes objection on abortion is the lack of awareness about safe methods of abortion. Safe abortion services are provided at FPA India’s clinics by trained service providers. We, the volunteers of FPA India, even help clear misconceptions about abortion to spread awareness. And as youth volunteers, it is our duty to speak up about abortion and try to eliminate the stigma that prevents women from accessing safe abortion services. If there is anything that the abortion process needs, it is the understanding and support of loved ones. Isn’t that something we can all provide?

 

 

Seema Kumari

Youth Champion,

Jaipur Branch, FPA India

Let’s talk Abortion.

 

Abortion is a very sensitive topic. But even if we want to have a discussion on it with our families, we do not receive a positive response and the topic is always avoided. This happens because of the sense of shame attached with abortion. I had a friend who was unmarried, but she became pregnant. When her family found out about her pregnancy, she was beaten and humiliated. She was made to feel ashamed to such an extent that she ended up committing suicide. I wish she would have met someone who would have guided her well on the safe methods of abortion, so she would have been alive and amidst us today. Not just her, but many women have to face a similar reaction from their family and friends. The society has these deep-rooted beliefs about abortion which are the cause of stigma associated with it.

When I first came in contact with the FPA India staff, I learnt of the MTP act of 1971 and my misconceptions were cleared. I understood the most important fact – that abortion is not a sin. But our families and even the society, do not allow us to openly discuss anything associated with abortion.

To find an apparently ‘less shameful’ solution to ending their pregnancy, many women end up going to unqualified, back-alley service providers (quacks). Unsafe methods used by them, may create further health complications or even prove fatal. That is why I think, it is always better to go to a certified clinic like FPA India’s, with a qualified medical practitioner who could terminate the pregnancy using safe and legal processes.

I wonder why we don’t discuss about a sensitive issue like abortion, especially when we consider it very important to discuss about our health and well-being. If Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) including information on abortion and sexual health and rights is made a compulsory part of our academics and education, it will help us young people to understand and handle these issues better.

The essential problem in our society is that women are never given a choice. When the partner and family of a woman don’t allow her to opt for abortion or even talk about it, she ends up opting for unsafe methods. One of the worst things that could happen to a woman is – not being allowed to independently take decisions about her own body, only because of stigma.

Today, the world has made such progress. The digital world has taken over everything and even provides answers to all questions. The internet is also easily accessible to all and searching for information is right at our fingertips. However, while information on abortion is easily available online, it is essential that families start discussing about it so that every person has access to safe abortion services in a stigma-free environment. We, the youth, must try to discuss about abortion as much as possible and spread the word to save lives of many girls and women, and even empower them with the right to make a choice about their own body.

 

Dharmita

Youth Champion,

Jaipur Branch, FPA India

Understanding Abortion the Right Way

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.

 

Lincy Shah

Youth Champion,

Mumbai Branch, FPA India

 

Abortion – Purely A Choice

There has never been an open dialogue on abortion, in society. It remains a topic that is hardly discussed, an act treated as morally wrong and unacceptable, sometimes weighed as equivalent to an act of murder. Thus, women seeking abortion are forced to seek clandestine services from unqualified practitioners. Stigma around abortion stands to damage the well-being of women in more ways than one; something that the bystanders can hardly comprehend.

Abortion stigma is evident in the fact that the first thing a person assumes about abortion, is how disgraceful an act it is. We are like programmed machines who centre our thoughts on the “act” of abortion alone, calling it disgraceful, inhumane, and unacceptable, while shaming and breaking a woman who opts for it. Women wanting to opt for abortion, thus, have to live in constant fear of being humiliated, to be treated as low as criminals and to be stripped of their rights.

It is not right on our part to permanently tag and shame women, leading them to opt for unsafe methods of abortion by unregistered practitioners. Perhaps from the society’s perspective, those seeking abortion are held as the antagonist of humanity, but we, as equal humans, do not qualify to pass judgment on anybody’s actions, nor force them to abstain from the use of services that provide for their own physical and mental well-being. If they think they are not prepared for bearing a child yet, then why shouldn’t they opt for abortion, by legal and safe means, at recognised centres?

We, as young people, can be the voice of all those whose voices are pressed down by the stigma associated with abortion. We can bring about a change if we stand firm in our belief that the people who seek abortion have every right to acquire the medical attention that they deserve, and if we plead to the vast majority who believe otherwise, to consider the unimaginable damage that can be inflicted upon abortion-seekers if such apathetic treatment towards them were to continue.

While we as a society, express our concerns about abortion, we stand to blame no other but ourselves for the harm we inflict upon the women of our society: our friends, our sisters, our mothers. As men, we will never know what it feels to be shamed for something like this that women have to go through. Our outlook on the matter compels the women of our households to feel insecure, in fear of being judged and cast aside by her own family and friends, unable to ask for and attain the necessities she requires for a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps a little of what we as men, can really do is encourage people to be more understanding in case a woman we know, wants to opt for abortion. We could help by guiding them to registered healthcare services where they can undergo a safe abortion. As male youth volunteers especially, we can help encourage male involvement in supporting women’s right to abortion and also clear their misconceptions. Moreover, we must make people aware about the impact of stigma by speaking out and showing our support for legally-approved, safe methods of abortion.

 

Daniel Kithan

Youth Champion,

Nagaland Branch, FPA India

Let’s fight the stigma around Abortion

In our society, there is a belief that abortion is ‘sinful’ because it is akin to ‘ending a life’. That is why in our community or in our family no one wants to talk about abortion. There is a feeling of hesitation while addressing abortion which is in fact caused by the stigma which in turn develops a sense of fear in the minds of women. This is why many even consider abortion a crime.

However, the fact remains that many women, whether married or unmarried, do need abortion services in their lives. But the problem arises in accessing these services in a stigma-free environment. And the problem gets even more compounded if the woman is unmarried. When an unmarried woman is pregnant, questions are raised on her character. She is judged as being shameless, careless, of loose character, etc. However, not many people know that if a woman is pregnant but is not ready to become a mother, then within 20 weeks an abortion can be conducted and is even legal in India. Due to the lack of awareness and education about abortion, people consider it as completely illegal. The challenge here is to make people aware that not only is abortion legal, but also safe if conducted by registered medical practitioners under the conditions laid by the law.

According to the World Health Organisation’s data (updated in 2016), approximately 22 million unsafe abortions are estimated to take place each year globally; almost all of them taking place in developing countries. Many women have to still undergo health complications in a country like ours, where safe abortion is legal and can be made available to women.

Encouraging conversations about abortion can help clear misconceptions about it. We as volunteers of FPA India, focus on spreading awareness about abortion rights in new ways such as campaigns, street plays, short films, and others. If we continue to do so with dedication, we will definitely achieve success in making people aware.

Through Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), we need to educate men and women about their sexual and reproductive rights, and for long-term results it is necessary to talk to men about the rights of women. When both, men and women, are aware of abortion rights, then can they go ahead in the right direction. To get people to understand that it is alright to get an abortion done using legal and safe methods, it is us, the youth, who need to contribute to this cause, and bring about a change for a better future.

 

Ankit Prajapati

Youth Champion,

Gwalior Branch, FPA India

 

Impact of stigma around abortion on women.

Abortion still remains unknown to many even today, because of which it is stigmatised by society. Women opting for, or seeking abortion facilities face many issues which impact them emotionally, socially, financially, etc.

The reality of Stigma

Women have had many unpleasant experiences while trying to access abortion services. This is because of the stigma associated with it. While some may claim that they can freely and rightfully opt for safe abortion, there are plenty of women who are still victims of stigma in different ways. This technically is a violation of their reproductive rights.

In many cases, when a woman who is married, shows her will to end her pregnancy, she is considered as a lady who does not adhere to traditional norms of womanhood, who is disrespectful of elders, selfish, and morally wrong. On the other hand, families force women to undergo sex-selective abortions because they only wish for a male heir. This is completely unacceptable and we at FPA India, do not support it.

The women who decide to end their pregnancy without any support from their partner or family, go alone for check-ups and the procedure. They then become victims of this stigma and are insulted time and again for not listening to the family. Even though the law in India allows a woman above 18 years of age to get an abortion done without the consent from the father, partner, anyone else, she is emotionally or mentally traumatised by her own people. How then will a woman take her independent decision of getting an abortion?

In the case of unmarried women, situations are worse, because stigma manifests more strongly. Single girls/women are not at all meant to have a sex before their marriage as per the beliefs of an apparently ‘decent’ and ‘civilised’ society. And therefore, an unmarried woman who seeks abortion services is judged as bad, wrong, and unethical, for getting physically involved with someone before marriage. Questions are raised on her character.

In some cases, service providers raise questions such as, ‘Why do you want an abortion?’ ‘Where is your partner?’ ‘Why have you come alone for an abortion?’ ‘Why don’t you want to give birth to a child if you’re eligible?’ These questions may hurt the sentiments of women and tag them as irresponsible, leaving them feeling helpless. It can also have a severe impact on their minds, their jobs, their schedule, their emotions, their finances, and many others. In such cases, they may opt for abortion from clandestine abortion provides which may prove to be a risk to their life.

In case a rape victim gets pregnant, the family puts a pressure on her. They very clearly show how the victim has brought shame to their family name. Even women who do not belong to well-to-do backgrounds face more emotional and mental pressure, besides the financial burden. They find themselves alone, and are made to pay a high price for the abortion, along with the additional character-assassination by society and lack of support. And therefore they may take drastic and inappropriate steps, which can endanger their precious lives.  Believe it or not, this still happens in many parts of our country.

 

What leads to Stigma?

Stigma develops only through influence. People who are constantly surrounded by those who view abortion in a bad light, also tend to adapt the same ideology. Abortion is stigmatised because of the lack of information, knowledge, and awareness, which results in misconception. There is a dire need to educate the families, partners, friends, and service providers to be sensitive to women who seek abortion services. This is possible through Comprehensive Sexuality Education and adequate counselling.

As the youth of today, it is our responsibility to hold open discussions about abortion. Awareness and advocacy for abortion play a major role in changing perceptions. We must have a warm and friendly outlook towards women who are seeking abortion services and those have done so in the past. Being sensitive to these needs is important. Most importantly, guiding service seekers to get the procedure done from certified medical practitioners with safe methods is essential.

Abortion for an unplanned pregnancy and sex-selective abortion should be placed differently. While the former is a right under certain legal clauses in our country, the latter is absolutely unacceptable.

I would like to conclude by saying, the reality of abortion will be clearly seen only when we want to see it.

 

 

Heena Sikarwar

Youth Champion,

 Gwalior Branch, FPA India