by Dyuti Krishnan, volunteer at the Family Planning Association of India
Abortion is completely legal in India. It has been legal since 1971, when the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed.
But if I asked people in India, ‘What’s the first thing that strikes you when you hear the word Abortion?’ I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard the words ‘killing’, ‘murdering’, ‘sin for unmarried people’, ‘female feticide’ and so on. Hopefully, some would say ‘rights’ or ‘self-choice’, or acknowledge that it is a common experience – kudos to them.
Many religious beliefs have implied that abortion is a sin and the very meaning is ‘killing a baby’. Well, let me tell you this. First of all, abortion does not mean ‘killing’ and second of all, it is not a ‘baby’. A woman carries a fetus during her pregnancy, not a ‘child’ or a ‘baby’. A fetus becomes a child or a ‘baby’ only when it has the ability to exist independently of the woman. When you look at a seed, you call it a seed, not a tree.
Abortion is a very common process. Regardless of whether people judge women who have an abortion or whether the laws in the country are made more stringent, women will still voluntarily terminate their pregnancy. It is her choice. You are no one to judge it because you don’t know her situation. I urge you to put yourself in her shoes. I urge you to respect her decision. If not respect, at least don’t criticize her. She has the right to her bodily integrity.
Dear Society, I urge you to stop judging a young woman who has had sex before marriage. If she can’t speak openly or access information she may choose to have an unsafe abortion, rather than access safe abortion care. So stop judging her and stop discriminating against her because she chose to have an abortion. Be a real human being by informing her and guiding her to a proper centre for abortion services because many women don’t know about the complications that can arise from an unsafe abortion.
We no longer live in a generation where abortion should even be a ‘stigma’.