It’s wedding season now and it will be a wedding season six months later. Right after a woman is married, she is ‘expected’ to give an heir to the family. A male heir. Khandaan ka naam aage kaise badhega warna? Yeah, right. This stupid mentality exists in not just rural but also urban households. We will talk about that male heir obsession, later.
People fail to understand that becoming a mother is not something that naturally comes to a woman right after marriage. She might be born ready to be a mom, not be ready after 5 years of marriage, or not be ready ever!
I have heard statements like, “Baccha paida karlo, miya biwi ke bich apne aap sab thik ho jayega,” or “Ab job chod do, bacche paid karo, parivar banao apna. Sab karte hai!”. Give me a break. Give us all a break.
Whether or not to be a mother is a choice that every woman has. We don’t talk much about this topic in India – the subject is ruthlessly ignored.
Even though becoming a mother is a beautiful feeling, it is not a feeling that every woman wants. Some might decide not to get pregnant and adopt a child as a choice. Some might decide to adopt several children and start an NGO. Some might decide to do nothing at all!
According to the data estimated by an international NGO, IPAS International Development Foundation, unsafe abortions kill 10 women in India every day! 3650 women every year! Furthermore, the organisation found that 68 lakh abortions take place every year. Rajasthan tops the list with 40,000 abortions. There a number of reasons that can justify these numbers. Some of them being, lack of sex education, illegal sex-determination tests, rape etc. But there is one reason for abortion that most people are unwilling to consider – that the woman doesn’t want to have a child. There, I said it.
Women who do not want to have kids are called out names you wouldn’t even want to hear. Not just the Indian society but also other societies across the world consider it to be ‘abnormal’, ‘selfish’ and ‘cowardly’. Why?
A woman is not born to be baby-producing machine. Her purpose in the world isn’t just to reproduce and die. Some women wouldn’t want to have children just because she chooses to do so. It’s simple. It is a matter of choice. A choice that needs to be respected.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 allows abortions upto the 20th week of pregnancy. Termination of pregnancy for upto 12 weeks requires only the woman’s consent but thereafter till the period of 20 weeks an approval from two qualified doctors is necessary. The procedures of abortion are two – oral and surgical. Oral procedures are relatively cheaper (a three-pill treatment) that amounts to Rs.6000 while surgery would amount to approximately Rs.30,000 at a good centre. But there is one cost we cannot estimate – the cost that a woman pays mentally and physically. People who condemn abortion should understand that no woman in her right mind would consider abortion unless she has a very strong reason for it – one of the strongest reasons is choice.
Since we are talking about pregnancy and abortion, lets also talk about how this happens in secret due to the stigma associated with it. Women would go through the process of abortion all alone – it is scary. Or some women might choose to kill themselves because they got pregnant before getting married! Some women might be duped by fake doctors who are fatal to their health! It is almost like she cannot breathe.
Think about a woman who has become pregnant after she has become a victim of a rape. In a recent case, a 10-year-old rape survivor gave birth to a baby born as a result of the assault on her as she was denied an abortion on medical grounds. The family did not approach the authorities till the 26th week. Why? You answer for yourself.
The rapes that do not come out in the open are the worse. Women might realise they are pregnant and hurry to get married to give ‘legitimacy’ to the child because abortion is looked down upon. Or they might become a victim of ‘honour killings’.
Recently, in an article in DNA, a quote from an internet meme by Berlin Art Parasites caught my eye. The meme quoting Frederica Mathewes-Green said, “No woman wants an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion like an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” That sums it up. Pregnancy is a choice, so is abortion, no matter how difficult.
Preview Photo: npr.org