Pro-Choice Abortion – A Fundamental Right

According to the World Health Organization, one woman dies every two hours due to unsafe abortions. Almost 70 lakhs abortions per year are documented and the rest are left undisclosed. What could be the reason for these surreptitious acts?

You can point a finger at the abortion laws, the religious myths about life or whatever suits your fancy but isn’t the decision of procreation a choice? Shouldn’t liberty be granted to choose to take up the responsibility?

In fact, the right to safe and legal abortion is a fundamental human right protected under numerous international and national level constitutions yet there are 26 odd countries like Iraq, Egypt, Philippines, Madagascar, etc. where the laws do not permit abortion under any circumstances, including when the women’s life or health is at risk. In India according to the MTP Act 1971, it is legal to get an abortion within the first 20 weeks under certain conditions and post 20 weeks only if it poses a threat to either mother/child but only by approval from the court. A recent ruling by the Delhi High Court stated that Section 3(2)(b) and section 5 of the Act should be seen cumulatively and not in isolation. Therefore, if the condition of the foetus is such that the possibility of life is measly, then Section 3(2)(b) should be relaxed and the arbitrary 20 weeks ceiling should be overlooked.

In a country like the Philippines where the legal age of consent is mere 12, lack of awareness about contraceptives and religious ideas about their usage has led to a soaring number of teenage pregnancies. A majority of the population here includes Catholic Christians and their religious beliefs state abortion as unethical. Criminalizing abortions doesn’t stop them. It just makes them less safe.

Christianity specifies that all sex acts must be both unitive and procreative. In addition to condemning the use of artificial birth control as intrinsically evil, non-procreative sex such as manual masturbation and anal sex are ruled out as ways to avoid pregnancy. In the context of causing pain to the unborn soul, it is medically proven that before 24 weeks a foetus cannot feel pain.

Denying access to abortion to women is the violation of human rights. Isn’t the intervention of government in such spheres an intrusion into the private life of an individual? Taking up the decision to have a child is a huge financial responsibility which can affect a couple’s current living circumstances. A study stated that there is no greater risk of mental health problems in those who have had abortions than in those who attempted to obtain the procedure.

Illegal abortions are the third leading cause of maternal death in India. When the termination of pregnancy brings forth lesser problems as compared to conducting a delivery provided the abnormalities stay the same, do we have any robust reason to snatch away the right to a safe abortion from women? 

09 March 2021
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