In ‘sanskari’ India, abortion continues to be a big deal

Abortion, Woman, Consent, Gynaecologist, Rights, Body, Pregnant, Doctor, Question, Married, Family, Parents, Husband, Patriarchy, Stigma, Bias, Stereotype
While addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the upper limit for permitting abortions has been extended from the present 20 weeks to 24 weeks. Illustration - Prathap Ravishankar

When Girish (name changed) and his partner approached a gynaecologist for abortion at a renowned multi-specialty hospital in Chennai, he was horrified at the reaction.

“She [the doctor] asked if we were married. When we said no, she said she won't perform [the abortion] without a husband or parents of the woman being there.”

While gynaecologist clinics should be spaces where women seek counsel and medical assistance free from guilt and shame, that is often not the case. In fact, many gynaecologists while noting the sexual history, often start with ‘Are you married?’, instead of asking, ‘Are you sexually active?’, making their clinics hostile spaces for women.

Such judgmental medical practice makes abortion-seekers opt for other methods, including risk-heavy procedures, done outside the supervision of trained medical professionals and ill-informed self-medication without a prescription.

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