Let's Talk About Abortion! 👀
Abortion. What’s the first thing that pops up in your mind when you read that word? Or say it to yourself? If you are a young Indian woman like me, chances are that you would have rarely heard the word uttered out loud. Or without the accompanying sounds of “haww.”
40% of pregnancies worldwide are unplanned. In India, abortion has been legal under various definitions for the last fifty years under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. And yet, when it comes to knowing the basic “how” of abortion – especially safe abortion options – we come up blank. Except, the dhoom-tana-dhoom-tana sound of horror made familiar to us by K-serials and Hindi films of all genres.
That abortion is a legal right is well established in fact. And the fact that it is a moral right – that a woman’s body is her own to make decisions about – is an argument I am not interested in justifying. Sadly, access to safe abortion based on choice is still not a guarantee for many women across the world. Even in countries where reproductive healthcare is a right, there is a serious lack of support structures for a woman who chooses abortion. These include counseling services, information kits that can tell her what her options are, and how she should go about getting an abortion in the way she chooses for her body.
Like Lizette from South Africa. Having got married at 18 to the love of her life, she found herself in a position where she was unexpectedly pregnant. However, since both she and her partner felt that they were not financially secure enough to want to bring a child into the world, she chose abortion. And in looking for more information on the options before her, she chose safe2choose.org. safe2choose.org is a global online information, counseling and referral platform that supports women seeking an abortion with pills or an in-clinic option , and refers them, when needed, to trusted, trained and pro-choice providers.
However, when it comes to something as stigmatized as abortion, what one needs is counseling support – someone to listen to you in a non-judgemental manner, and offer you practical guidance on next steps. safe2choose.org offers global counseling services in different languages including English, Hindi, and Punjabi.
So, what abortion options are available in India? Abortion is legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy in India. For pregnancies upto 12 weeks, the approval of one registered medical practitioner is needed. And for pregnancies more than 12 weeks but less than 20 weeks, approval of two such practitioners are needed. Within these criteria, here are the types of abortion available in India that you can opt for,
Abortion with pills, available within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy
Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA)
Electric Vacuum Aspiration (EVA)
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)
To know more about abortion in India, you can check out resources and helpline numbers here.
If we look at abortion as a reproductive healthcare right, a large part of the stigma around it can cease to matter. If we take care of our bodies when we look at our cardiac or respiratory health, why shouldn’t we have the same information and choice to care for our reproductive health? So the next time you hear the word “abortion,” hit the brakes on the “haaws” and maybe ask “Sure, what more do I need to know?”