*Abhay and *Suman are in their early 20s and students at Delhi University.
Your place or mine
Abhay: Suman and I met at a college workshop. She was vivacious, pretty and confident and I felt attracted to her. After the workshop we lost touch. So I was surprised to receive a call from her after a few months. She was calling to invite me to a seminar and we began interacting again.
Suman: In a matter of a few weeks, we came close to each other and became good friends. One day when we were sitting close to each other, watching TV in my room, I held his hand and pulled him close. We began exploring each other’s bodies and soon we were having sex. We enjoyed it so much that we would now often meet at his place or mine.
A torn condom
Abhay: One evening, as I was deciding to go out with my friends, I received a call from Suman. It was a weekend and she was in her hometown, so I was surprised. When I picked up the phone, I heard her cry.
Abhay: I was shocked but tried to maintain my calm. I now remembered that the last time we had sex, the condom had torn midway. I had not ejaculated inside her vagina but wanted to take no chance in case some semen had unfortunately passed in. So I told Suman to take the emergency contraceptive pill. However, this realization happened three days later and it was too late then.
Not the time
Suman: We both were scared of the repercussions of our passion. We were not ready to be parents at this age! We had to get an abortion before it was too late. But I was worried. Was abortion legal in India and did we have to be married to have an abortion?
Abhay: I googled and found out that abortion was legal in India and one didn’t need to be married to get one. But I knew it wouldn't be easy, given what our society thinks about sex before marriage.
But abortion was a must. So I took the first step and contacted a gynaecologist who was close to her place. The doctor told us to meet as soon as possible and we went there the same evening. To avoid any trouble, we even decided to act like a married couple.
Not a crime
Suman: The doctor knew from our faces we weren’t married and super stressed. She understood what we were going through and reassured us that we had not committed any crime. She told us that the treatment will be kept secretive and all information will remain between the three of us. We immediately felt hugely relieved.
Abhay: The doctor recommended abortion with a pill. She assured us that the abortion will be successful and gave Suman some pills to consume. She felt nauseated and drowsy because of the medicines. I decided to stay with her for a week. Our parents were not involved in this because we did not want our personal lives to be moralised by them. After one week of medication, the doctor informed us of the successful abortion and we were back to our lives.
Not everyone’s story
Suman and Abhay were lucky to find a supportive and non-judgemental doctor for abortion. But this is not true for the majority of the unmarried Indian women who intend to terminate their pregnancies. Often they are left with no choice and end up choosing unsafe methods and places for abortion.
According to a Lancet study, almost 60% of abortions in India are unsafe. Also, about 8.5% of all maternal deaths in India are due to unsafe abortion; and 10 women die every day due to this reason.
This is despite the fact that abortions are legal in India for the last 46 years. The reason for the high number of unsafe abortions is mainly the lack of awareness (that abortion is actually legal and supported) and the stigma around abortion as well as sex before marriage.
*Names changed. This article was first published on March 23, 2018.
Love Matters supports women’s right to choose and make decisions about their bodies. Read more about abortion and contraceptive choices on Love Matters.