- Ajay and Asma
Women's Right to Abortion: The Importance of Liberal Laws and Access to Safe Healthcare
This article is written by Ajay Sahani and Asma Khan, second-year law students at ILS Law College, Pune.
Introduction: The Personal Choice of Abortion
We are in the 21st century and if we are still fighting and debating over whether women have the right to decide on their bodies then I feel we need to go back in time and evolve again but this time be a little more progressive and liberal where we are not questioning the most personal choice of someone. Abortion is not something that women willingly do or think of doing someday in future. I believe it is every woman’s worst nightmare to be in a position where she has to decide whether to keep someone alive or not. Imagine being in that situation, doesn’t matter how you get into it, whether it is the failure of contraceptives or if it is accidental or you just feel it’s not the right time, being in that situation is itself dreadful and upon that you are a part of patriarchal and misogynist society who thinks that women cannot decide on their own body? And starts to question her character because she is considering not giving birth for whatever reason that seems valid to her. Imagine the life of a baby whose mother doesn’t want them to come to this world but didn’t have any option so she gave birth to the baby. Don’t you think this situation is much more miserable? Women are already diagnosed with higher rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and lower self-esteem due to everyday experiences of sexism and discrimination such as street harassment or the lack of equitable division of labour in heterosexual relationships. Losing the ability to maintain bodily autonomy can also impact a woman’s health and is an additional source of discrimination and stress that can increase risk factors for psychiatric disorders. According to multiple studies, women who conceived unintentionally were more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and take illicit drugs. In addition, they were less likely to receive prenatal care. This affects their children as well. Children born after unwanted pregnancies showed cognitive delays, an increase in behavioral problems, and a greater likelihood of substance abuse.
The Impact of Abortion Restrictions on Women's Health and Society
Abortion rights refer to the ability of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy. The right to access safe and legal abortion is a fundamental aspect of reproductive rights and has been recognized as such by international human rights treaties and organizations. The issue of abortion is often highly debated and can be a contentious issue, with different opinions and beliefs regarding the morality and legality of the procedure. It is important to respect individual autonomy and to ensure access to safe and legal abortion for women, regardless of their personal beliefs or circumstances. In the past, abortion was not allowed and faced strong opposition from society, which considered it as the killing of a fetus. Christians believe that life begins at conception and hence it is a sin to abort a fetus. The term "unborn child" is frequently used by proponents of abortion, and they hold the conservative view that the child shouldn't suffer due to the mother's issues or the circumstances surrounding conception. This perspective's proponents contend that since an embryo can become a person, any attack on his life should be considered murder. However, with changing times and advancements in technology, many nations have legalized abortion, with the landmark decision of Roe vs Wade in the Supreme Court of the USA serving as a turning point. Despite this, some people believe that abortion should be banned by law. As a result, Roe vs Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court.
Abortion Rights as a Fundamental Aspect of Individual Autonomy and Bodily Sovereignty
If we consider Indian abortion laws, it is more liberal than other Western nations. Indian abortion laws consider every aspect a woman can go through, giving her the right to abortion. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act [MTP], passed by the parliament in 1971, was the only time we got separate legislation for reproductive rights. This stated Act has then been amended two times until now in the years 2003 and 2021 under which the time for termination was increased to 24 weeks and also considered special categories such as minors, rape survivors, women with mental disabilities, fetus abnormalities, etc. The said act now also considers unmarried and single women which shows the progress in thinking as before it was assumed that unmarried women do not indulge in sexual intercourse. Whether you are a married or unmarried woman, there should not be any discrimination based on this; everyone irrespective of their marital status should have the right to terminate their pregnancy. This Act also fails to consider a non-cisgender woman who does not identify as a woman but still has the capability or possibility of getting pregnant. Though we said that the Indian abortion law is liberal only if we compare it to other nations, it needs more progressive amendments.
Combating Stigma and Raising Awareness for Safe and Legal Abortion
We do have a liberal abortion law but the stigma of abortion is still rooted in our country. Illegal abortion and unwanted pregnancy will continue to take place unless there is more awareness in rural areas. The ground reality is always more awful than what we see, hence, progressive laws will not be of any help if people do not exercise them rightly. There should always be a balance between two things, executing the law is only a part of reaching the goal, the main task is to implement it in such a way that everyone is aware of exercising that particular law. The ability to access safe and legal abortion is essential for women to exercise control over their bodies and lives.
In this article, we will discuss why it is important to have liberal abortion rights, and what the implications of restrictive abortion laws are for women, society, and the health care system. First, the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy is a fundamental aspect of individual autonomy and bodily sovereignty. Women have the right to make decisions about their bodies, and this includes the right to choose to end a pregnancy. Furthermore, such laws disproportionately impact marginalized and vulnerable populations, including women of colour, low-income women, and women in rural areas who face barriers to accessing quality healthcare services.
Second, liberal abortion laws are essential for ensuring access to safe and legal abortion services. In countries with restrictive abortion laws, women often resort to dangerous and illegal methods of ending a pregnancy, putting their health and life at risk. In contrast, countries with liberal abortion laws have lower rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, and women can access safe and quality abortion services. Additionally, liberal abortion laws help to prevent unsafe and illegal abortions, reducing the burden on the health care system and improving overall health outcomes for women.
Third, liberal abortion laws are crucial for promoting gender equality and women's rights. Restrictive abortion laws perpetuate gender-based discrimination and reinforce patriarchal attitudes and values. Such laws also perpetuate economic and social inequalities, as they limit women's opportunities and restrict their ability to fully participate in society. By contrast, liberal abortion laws support gender equality and help to break down barriers to women's empowerment and equal participation in society.
Fourth, liberal abortion laws support family planning and reproductive health. Women who can choose whether and when to have children are better able to plan their lives and achieve their personal and professional goals. Furthermore, women who have access to safe and legal abortion services are better able to manage their reproductive health, reducing the risk of unintended pregnancies and other reproductive health problems. Finally, liberal abortion laws are an essential component of comprehensive healthcare systems. Women's health and well-being are integral to the overall health and well-being of families, communities, and societies. Thus, it is important to ensure that women have access to the full range of health care services, including safe and legal abortion services. By providing access to quality abortion services, can improve health outcomes and reduce the burden on other healthcare services.
In situations where families have a preference for male children, there can be pressure on women to have sex-selective abortions. If women refuse to comply with this preference, they may face emotional, verbal, or physical abuse, and be ostracized from their families and communities. This issue not only affects women but also devalues and discriminates against girl children. It is a significant problem that requires addressing the root causes of gender inequality and promoting education, awareness, and empowerment of women and girls. Laws and policies should also protect women's rights and prevent sex-selective abortion and other forms of gender-based violence.
Conclusion: The Importance of Protecting Women's Right to Choose
The importance of liberal law is immense. Women`s reproductive rights: Liberal abortion law advocates believe that women should have the right to make decisions about their own physical and reproductive health. Liberal abortion law recognizes that women's reproductive health decisions can be influenced by these factors and requires access to safe and legal abortion to address these issues. Want to provide Personal Freedom and Autonomy: Proponents of liberal abortion law argue that individuals should have the freedom and autonomy to make decisions about their physical and reproductive health without interference from the government or other outside forces. Reproductive Justice: The Reproductive Justice Movement recognizes that access to safe and legal abortion is just one aspect of her reproductive health and rights. Liberal abortion law sees these issues as interconnected and advocates policies that promote reproductive justice.
In conclusion, liberal abortion rights laws are necessary for ensuring women's health, autonomy, and equality. They are essential for promoting safe and legal abortion services, reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, promoting gender equality, supporting family planning and reproductive health, and improving overall healthcare outcomes. By providing women with the ability to make decisions about their bodies and lives, we can help to build a more just and equitable world.