Most sexually active people can agree that sex is fun, and makes life and love better. But unfortunately, the good things in life do come with some risks. And in the case of sexual intercourse, an unwanted pregnancy is one of the biggest risks. There are lots of myths and misconceptions in India about abortion. One study showed that over 80% of Indian women do not know that abortion is legal in India! An abortion is a simple medical procedure to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and it is completely legal in India upto 24 weeks of a pregnancy!
Well, why should you care? Many people think that abortion isn’t a topic that they have to think about. ‘I didn’t know a thing about abortions,’ admits 25 year old Manush, from Uttar Pradesh. ‘I mean, I’m a man, I can’t get pregnant, I didn’t think it would ever become important to me.’ His attitude towards abortions changed in 2017, when his girlfriend accidentally got pregnant. Manush describes it as a state of shock. ‘We were always careful,’ he clarifies, ‘I didn’t understand how it happened, we never had sex without a condom. We always made sure the condom was in place, and never slipped off. ’ Hopefully with better awareness, all couples will become as careful as Manush and his partner. But, however careful you are, contraception is not 100%. There is a reason the condom packets say 99%. Unfortunately for Manush and his girlfriend, they were in the 1%.
“When she told me she had skipped a period, I didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know where to go or who to talk to. Finally, after lots of panicking, I bought her a pregnancy test. And it was true- she was pregnant.’ Manush and his girlfriend knew next to nothing about abortions at the time. They didn’t know where to go, or who to talk to. The first gynecologist they went to was incredibly judgemental. ‘She scolded my partner for having sex outside of marriage, and called both of us irresponsible, even though we have always been so careful.’ Finally, after a few more unpleasant experiences like this, they went to another gynecologist and lied that they were married. The doctor agreed to do the abortion, and it took place succesfully.
While this couple did finally have access to an abortion, the pain, fear and mental trauma that led up to it is a reality for many Indians. An unwanted pregnancy can happen to anyone. It doesn’t just happen to ‘bad’ or ‘irresponsible’ people. People can seek abortions for many reasons. This can include a birth defect in the baby, health risk to the mother, financial problems, a pregnancy that results from rape or abuse, or simply not wanting to have a baby. But whatever the reason for an abortion, it is important to remember that abortion is a human right. Pregnancy is an emotionally, physically and psychologically demanding process, and no one should be forced to go through it.
And most importantly, a timely abortion can save lives. In India, about 21-40 percent of pregnancies end in abortions. In countries where abortion is not legal, women resort to illegal abortions, which are not regulated by medical standards and can be dangerous. Women who are even more desperate, may try to punch, hit or injure themselves in the stomach to induce an abortion. This can lead to health problems, internal bleeding or even death. This is exactly why information about abortions and access to safe abortions are absolutely necessary.
So if you, or someone close to you needs to seek an abortion- remember that an abortion performed by a licensed medical practitioner is completely safe and in India, it is absolutely legal. If you are over the age of 18, you don’t need anybody else’s permission to get an abortion done. It may seem like a scary process, but in fact, it is only a simple medical procedure that can save lives and prevent unnecessary mental trauma. So if you are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant, the best thing you can do for yourself is to always use protection, without fail. Being able to prevent pregnancy is your right. At the same time, however safely you practice sex, do keep yourself informed about abortions.