A pregnancy is a life-changing scenario. But an unplanned pregnancy even more so. It brings with it a series of complications that a woman or a couple may not have even thought about or be ready for - emotionally, financially and physically. The decision to abort could evoke a sea of emotions. And at this point a woman comes to a doctor.
Abortion, as you are well aware, is legal in India. Unfortunately, however, thousands of women in India still seek abortion in unsafe clinics for the shame, stigma, judgment and fear associated with the process.
‘Oh, this means she is sexually active!’
‘Abortion? You may not have children again!’
‘Couldn’t they have been more careful?’
The lack of proper information on the risks and legality around abortion pushes women into seeking unsafe and illegal methods of abortion. Love Matters is a strong believer in the role doctors and medical professionals can play in reducing the shame, stigma, fear and judgment around abortion.
Words of support, a comfortable environment and proper information can go a long way in helping remove the above-listed obstacles around abortion and allow millions of women to gain control over their bodies.
A pregnancy, wanted or not, results from actions of two people and should be treated as a joint responsibility, irrespective of the decision to continue or abort. Even an unwanted pregnancy is not a failure on anyone’s part. It is a natural process and should thus addressed naturally. A medical professional should provide information on the available medical options in clear and comforting manner. And allow the woman to make her choice.
However, after providing the treatment, the service-provider may counsel the woman, and also her partner (if she has one) to reduce the possibility of an unintended and unwanted pregnancy in future.
Abortion is a medical procedure that concerns the health and choices of the pregnant woman. It is also legal to avail and receive an abortion in India. There is nothing wrong in exercising a legal choice that concerns her own body and future.
Personal prejudices and moral judgements of the service provider must be kept away from the abortion-seeker. All advice must remain factual and keeping the woman’s physical and mental health as the top priority.
Pregnancy is not a certain outcome of sex (pleasure is, perhaps). A host of reasons, as listed in point 1, may result in an unintended pregnancy. So, the logic that having sex results in an unwanted pregnancy, is faulty. Moreover, such comments might impact the mental situation of the pregnant woman, and she might go for unmonitored and unsafe means to end her pregnancy by herself – that might put her life at risk. In case of single women, such comments reinforce the policing of their bodies and sexual choices, and harms their mental health.
The law in the MTP Act states no requirement for an adult woman (over 18 years of age) to be accompanied by anyone to seek medical termination of her pregnancy. The important point to mention here is that she can be accompanied by the partner or parents, but the doctor doesn't need their consent regardless.
If a woman goes alone to seek an abortion, she is already there without the desirable personal support that one should have during a time when her body is undergoing such confusing changes as in a pregnancy. Everything to make her feel safe and comfortable should be said and done, instead.
Only a case-by-case assessment will reveal the nature of risk involved in an abortion; risk, commonly, increases as the pregnancy matures. However, in general, medical or surgical abortion provided by a qualified medical practitioner is a safe procedure and there is little impact on a person’s future ability to conceive.
Creating a scary image of the procedure and its consequences might discourage the pregnant woman who might not be in the personal, financial, and/ or emotional situation to continue the unwanted pregnancy and deal with an offspring. So, a service provider must always give her scientific and objective understanding about the procedure and consequences of medical termination of a pregnancy.
She and her partner (if there is one) may, however, be counselled so that possibility of an unwanted pregnancy and need for abortion is reduced for future.