Why Every Girl Must Know The Laws Governing Abortions And Her Body

“She got two abortions in two years. Can you believe it? She won’t be able to conceive now. Do her parents know she lives with a boy?” asked my mother in a hushed tone, not showing concern for this girl but curiously trying to know the opinion of her ‘defaulter’ child over an issue which is supposed to be kept a secret.

Abortion is seldom talked about in our society, especially when it is linked to an unmarried woman. I wish I could paint the walls of Delhi with crimson hue reading: IT IS LEGAL FOR AN UNMARRIED WOMAN TO GET AN ABORTION IN INDIA WITHOUT BEING HARASSED BY ANYONE.

Abortion laws were introduced in India to reduce the incidences of unsafe abortions performed by quacks, who, even though mistrusted, are preferred when it comes to abortion. They are one of the reasons why 8% of maternal deaths occur, according to a large-scale study conducted by the Lancet in 2015. It also concluded that 15. 6 million pregnancies in 2015 resulted in abortion and out of these, 48% were done using unsafe methods. Using abortion pills was the most common technique adopted, which made up 81% of all the unsafe abortions.

In order to understand this, one must understand the abortion laws in our country. Under the law, abortion is defined as an untimely termination of a foetus, conceived with or without the knowledge of the couple, married or unmarried. Two types of abortions can be carried out depending upon the time that has elapsed. A woman who is less than 7 weeks pregnant, can abort the child with the help of pills and medications. This a non-surgical method and pills should always be taken under the supervision of a physician. If your pregnancy has gone above 7 weeks, surgery must be performed, which, if performed under unsafe and unhygienic conditions, or by an unskilled practitioner, can lead to infection or even death in some cases. It is your body and your reproductive health is your RIGHT.

To know the law is to know your rights. Abortion is legal in India and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, permits it after consultation with one doctor upto 12 weeks. If the pregnancy exceeds 12 weeks, it can still be performed up to 20 weeks with the assent of two medical practitioners. Beyond 20 weeks, there are still legal provisions in the following cases:
  • A woman has a serious disease and the pregnancy can endanger her life.
  • A woman’s physical or mental health is endangered by the pregnancy.
  • The fetus has a substantial risk of physical or mental disability.
  • A woman contracts rubella during the first three months of pregnancy.
  • Any of a woman’s previous children had congenital abnormalities.
  • The fetus is suffering from RH disease.
  • The fetus has been exposed to radiation.
  • The pregnancy is the result of rape.
  • A woman’s socioeconomic status may hamper a healthy pregnancy.
  • A contraceptive device failed.
But, the concern is harassment of an unmarried woman at the hands of the medical practitioners, who, rather than informing about her rights over her body, mislead her into thinking that she can’t abort if she is unmarried and must also be accompanied by a guardian or her partner. This is an outright lie and that is why every girl should know about the laws related to her own body.

A woman who is unmarried and over 18 can legally provide her own written consent to get an abortion. If a woman is unmarried and under 18, she must provide written consent from her guardian. In the absence of any of these conditions or permissions, abortion is illegal in India under the MTP Act, 1971.

A girl must know the laws related to the body because that is the only thing she governs a full right over in this patriarchal society.

Source - Youth Ki Awaj

Follow by Email