To simply say, pregnancy is not easy. We live in a very fast-paced world that promotes fast food, competition and stress. A mixture of all these results in degrading reproductive health in the majority of girls and women. They are found facing period problems, hormonal issues and even bigger scourges like cancer obstructing the chances of attaining safe motherhood.
In such situations, even if a woman does get pregnant or if complications arise, she will have to find ways to ensure her own safety. That could even mean the deliberate termination of the foetus. Therefore, abortion here becomes a choice for her to safeguard her own life. Not just this, we have heard about a growing number of rape cases and subsequent unwanted pregnancies. For rape victims, abortion is a big choice to help them move forward in their life.
Right now the United State is in the spotlight for its landmark decision on abortion. The country’s Supreme Court has come up with the ruling that there is no constitutional right to abortion, making it totally illegal. This has put the reproductive freedom of American women in a very difficult position. Also, it has set a wrong example for already conservative countries that are completely against the idea of abortion.
In the context of Nepal, abortion was formally legalised in 2002. The country allows abortion services in the case of rape, incest, or pregnancy poses danger to life or physical or mental health of a girl or woman. Just the simple word abortion has so much meaning to it. It is a means of freedom for some women while it is also an instrument of control for others.
While abortion can be placed under the category of basic reproductive health services, it is essential to understand that there will always be a group of people who will use it as a tool for their own benefit. In patriarchal society like ours, sons are always preferred over daughters. So, illegal sex determination of the unborn is done and people are found terminating pregnancy up until the gender is male. But this is a very wrong practice as the whole process is not just unsafe but also kills a life that could healthily grow in the mother’s belly.
It is a clear indication that families, society and even the law influence, affect and pressurise women to take decisions that they deem is correct. Criminalising abortion does not control the tendency to abort. People will still find alternatives and underground markets are bound to flourish. It is just that the whole process will be completely unsafe and will promote subsequent rise in deaths. Thus, there is a big need to make abortion an important part of health services.
Everything comes down to making decisions. One of the crucial aspects of human rights is the ability to make choices without any kind of pressure from family, society or law. But putting a complete ban on procedures like abortion is like asking women to put a brave front and face suffering or even death. It is high time women made important decisions for themselves without the influence of any extraneous factor. We are in a time where we need to revolutionise the concept of making right choices by the person who is directly affected by it. Like medical checkups, abortion too should be part and parcel of health services.