The abortion ban in several states in the United States of America has created a huge stir on the social media, where women across the world are voicing their angst against it. It does seem ironic that it was women who proposed the bill and signed over the final bill. And that seems to be the terrible state of affairs in the USA.
While we do think that India may also have ancient patriarchal laws considering the way society functions, it is completely different to what one expects. A large number of people still remain unaware that by law, they have the right to access abortions in India.
Related Article: Abortion Drugs Are Freely Sold Online! Pharma Body Raises Concern
Women must know the laws related to the body because she governs a full right over it, and therefore here is what we need to know about the MTP or Medial Termination of Pregnancy act that focuses on women’s consent more than any.
Single Unmarried Women Do Not Need Anyone’s Consent
The concern always remains alive for single unmarried women – not health wise, but the harassment. Rutuja Shinde, Advocate, Bombay High Court says that in India, abortion in itself is a taboo and women are hesitant to talk about it. “Since premarital pregnancies, child conceived through rape etc are issues that stigmatize women, there is not much discourse around it. Safe and effective abortions is every woman's right and women should be made aware of the options they have to prevent illegal/dangerous methods of abortion.” Shinde says.
At times, harassment by medical practitioners end up shaming or confusing her rather than informing about her rights over her body, mislead her into thinking that she can never abort if she is unmarried and must also be accompanied by a guardian or her partner. For all other reasons listed above, single women can access abortions. There is but one clause reserved for married women which is abortion because of contraceptive failure.
Access To Abortions Is Fully Legal
This may come as a surprise to many, but medical termination of pregnancy has been legal in India under certain conditions since the passage of the Act in 1971. India became one of the first few countries to actually legalise abortions beyond just life-threatening situations. However, a survey conducted in 2007 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare suggests that only 22.9% of men, and 28% of women were aware about medical facilities available for abortions.
While abortions are legal in India, the law as it stands today does not allow termination of pregnancy on the request of a woman. Yeah, that kinda sucks. In India, abortions are legal up to 12 weeks with approval from one service provider and beyond 12 weeks to 20 weeks requires the approval of two service providers.
There are some other conditions listed in the Act: You can get an abortion if the service provider is able to assess that there is a risk to the woman’s life, a threat to a women's physical and mental health (including contraceptive failure for married women), or risks the child if born to be “seriously handicapped”.
Commenting about the Lack of awareness around law, Shinde tells us, “schools or even education institutes in general don't teach legal rights extensively, difficulty in accessing resources related to legal knowledge. Abortion is not banned in India, it is conditional after a certain period has passed ie you have to take permission from the court. In the US abortion debate stems from Christian beliefs which is why many states are proposing a ban.”
There Are Two Types Of Abortions - Medical And Surgical
Medical abortion is a common terminology for abortions induced by the use of pills. An abortion within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy in India can be legally performed using a combination of 2 pills. Ideally the pills should be placed below your tongue for effective absorption.
The medical abortion is non-invasive, non-surgical and extremely safe. These pills should be prescribed to you by a medical practitioner or an OBGYN licensed to perform abortions as per the MTP Act.
A surgical abortion on performed about after seven weeks into the pregnancy by a trained doctor. The foetus is removed along with placenta from the uterus using either electric or manual vacuum aspiration. Although these terms sound very technical, advancements in technology have made these procedures completely safe.
Gender Biased Sex Selection Law & MTP Act Are Different
There are two separate laws for issues that are unrelated even when it may not seem so. Gender biased sex selection is an issue of deep rooted gender based discrimination against women and girls in the patriarchal Indian society which needs to be targeted at its root. The first is regulated by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1991 and the second by The PCPNDT Act, 1994.
Safe abortion is a different issue entirely which is about the access is an issue of reproductive and sexual rights where a woman makes choices and decisions regarding her body and life.
These are the main laws you need to know about abortion because in the end, be it any place on earth –nobody, we repeat, NOBODY has the right to make a choice for a woman’s body except for herself. And we are glad to know that safe access to abortion is offered in India, and we need to make more people aware of it.