Abortion: Right Without Access
By Ashutosh Vasistha
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report, a woman in a developing nation dies every eighth minute due to complexity in unsafe abortion method. This is really a point of concern as despite having adequate laws for abortion as well as efficient infrastructure, why the mortality rate is so high. In spite of having various safe methods for abortion of an infant, she has to resort to unsafe methods and it is because of our cold-heartedness which compels a woman to go through painful and cumbersome procedures. It is really a very sensitive issue which requires every individual’s due attention because at this stage laws are not able to solve their purpose because society makes it impossible for her to access her legal rights.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP) was formed so that a well-established mode is provided to the vulnerable section of society in order to get the infants aborted legally. As prior to this abortion was not considered as a legal right and no means was there to safely abort the infants. However, with the introduction of the said Act, a codified procedure was laid down for abortion so that the health of the women is not adversely affected by the infants. Provisions of this Act was such that a married woman can get her infant aborted within 20 weeks with permission of a medical practitioner on several grounds like the risk of the life of the mother, abnormality in a child, due to failure of contraceptive method, and pregnancy due to rape. It is clearly provided that she doesn’t require anybody else’s consent except medical practitioner and that to because her health is not adversely affected by abortion.
Now the reason behind this high mortality rate despite having legislations like MTP and other Acts is that firstly only married women are allowed to have this precaution, and for unmarried women, these are not the resorts. So, unmarried women other than rape victims have to go through the unsafe method of abortion and in which the risk of the life of the mother is too high. They normally use either homemade or go to nonmedical professionals for getting an abortion. One of the aims of MTP Act was also to reduce the rate of use of an unsafe method, but it was not able to solve its purpose as the rate of use of the unsafe method is even today higher than safe procedures. Out of total 3/4th of the women using unsafe treatment results in the death of the aborting mother. Secondly, abortion in the remote areas is through non-professionals and without proper precautions and which not only increases risk of death but also causes many irreparable injuries which ultimately make it very oppressive for them to sustain.
Although no consent of family or husband is required for the abortion of a child, the stigma that women have to bear within society is more painful and dreadful. She will be daily criticized by the person whom she will encounter in her daily life. There must be a change in our mindsets towards the women aborting their child and especially in the case if she is unmarried. She neither needs our sympathy nor our cold-hearted remarks as both make her feel as if she had made an offense. It should be considered as very normal because until and unless this taboo is vindicated from society, women will not come up with abortion using safe method and thus much-needed a decrease in the mortality rate will not be achieved. It is a cycle that starts and ends within the society and the ultimate goal cannot be achieved without removing this taboo from our narrow horizons. It really creates a lot of problems for a woman going through this phase as she gets physically weak and she needs moral strength which gets broken with society’s callousness.
We have to make this situation normal in our society as until and unless this taboo is extracted from its roots this rate will go on increasing. Every time we go on criticizing the laws and doesn’t give a thought to the society in which these legislations have to operate, it is the problem with society and our viewpoint which has lead to this stigma and if our attitude will remain the same than these codified procedures will be merely a piece of papers having no values. They are treated as out-castes especially unmarried woman as if she had committed a crime, coming up for abortion requires very much courage for a woman and she deserves at least respect and esteem in the society. Although it is a legal right given to every woman, access to this right is like to pass hell and the hell is created by society itself.
Awareness about the consequences of using unsafe methods should be there to every woman and especially to those living in the remote and backward area as they usually resort to this method only. On the other hand, abortion should be there at every government hospital having adequate infrastructure free of cost, so that the marginalized section of the society is also able to avail these facilities. Both the center and state government must look up into this issue and necessary steps should be taken for the upliftment of the vulnerable section as until and unless proper directions will not be provided to the mute masses this evil will remain as it is and the number of mortality rate due to use of unsafe method will increase.
As we can see that laws and legislation are not able to solve this problem so, we have to take a step ahead and make sure that this stigma is extracted from the roots of our society. It is really an alarming threat that every 8th minute we lose the most precious part of our society. Now, the time has come when this issue must be brought into eyes of every individual, and an active role must be taken by us as well as government to eradicate this social evil from our society.