Abortion is women's right to their body and their future, it's theirs alone to decide.
Among many stereotypes that a woman has to grow up to, abortion is one such. The recent clashes between women's rights activists and Police in Mexico city brought the tabooed debate to the forefront.
On Monday morning, the city erupted with protests demanding the legalization of abortion in the majoritarian Roman Catholic country. The protesters gathered in Mexico's capital in the green bandanas, the symbol of the pro-choice movement in Latin America, to mark International Safe Abortion Day celebrated on September 28 each year. The protest soon turned violent with reports of an officer briefly engulfed in flames, soon doused by other officers on duty.
Abortion in Mexico is a controversial issue. Its legal status varies by state. The procedure is available on request to any woman up to twelve weeks into pregnancy in Mexico City and the state of Oaxaca but is severely restricted in the other states.
Countries With Strict Abortion Laws
A 2017 report by the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health laws, found that 42% of women of reproductive age live in countries where abortion is either banned or allowed only in specific circumstances. The most common legal grounds for abortion worldwide are to protect the life of the mother, followed by serious risk to her physical or mental health.
Around half of the countries in the world allow abortion in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, and a similar proportion recognises serious foetal abnormality.
Catholic Malta is the only European country to have a total ban on abortion. However, in practice, doctors will give life-saving treatment to a mother even if an embryo or foetus is harmed or aborted as a result. That’s despite the Maltese Criminal Code making doctors liable for up to four years in prison if they cause a miscarriage.
A survey by Malta Today revealed that 95.2% of those surveyed were opposed to abortion by request - known as elective abortion - even if it were restricted to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Less than half said that abortion should be allowed to save the life of the mother.
63 countries and territories allow women to end their pregnancies with some conditions such as time limit on when the procedure can be performed.
The only Western nation where a woman can seek an elective abortion at any time in her pregnancy, is Canada, although in practice a handful of terminations occur during the third trimester, HuffPost reports.
In the UK women can obtain an abortion up to 24 weeks into their pregnancy. Terminations can be performed after this limit in exceptional circumstances, such as to save the life of the mother or because of a severe foetal abnormality.
Why Abortion Is A Taboo?
Women have the right to determine their own future, whether that means using contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy or choosing to end a pregnancy through safe abortion. Yet stigma and judgement persist. WHY?
We rarely see discussions on women's choices for their own body. Open and honest conversations about abortion can help women feel secured. They won't hesitate in asking for more information. It will further help in creating an informed and safe environment for women to make decisions about their future.
It's high time that we as a society destigmatise abortion. End this culture of silence around the topic. Often the stigma attached prohibits women to speak up to their families, keep their anxieties insecurities to themselves. Resulting in them feeling cornered or isolated, at times for the rest of their lives. It's important to break free from this cycle of stigma, silence, myth, isolation and further stigma.
Image source: The Skier Scribbler
How Can We Destigmatise Abortion?
By speaking up!
Sharing real-life experiences if you have one, and most importantly supporting those who speak up. Stigma persists when we remain silent. We should be able to challenge the culture of secrecy. Normalise sharing personal stories and when someone opens up about their journey, be compassionate and empathetic.
It's okay to talk about abortion. Normalise talking, discussing ABORTION.
And remember to be informed. Equipping ourselves with facts help in furthering our objective. When someone makes a slide remark on abortion, we can challenge them with hard evidence. Be informed, and don't remain silent.
About the Author
Prakriti S is a foodie, wildlife photographer, geo-politics enthusiast, and a woman activist.
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