Right to Choose Abortion and Pregnancy: In many countries, including the United States of America, a woman’s have Right to Choose Abortion and Pregnancy but In India, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971 make abortions legal, subject to certain limitations.
At a symposium on ‘Reproductive Rights In Indian Courts’ in New Delhi, Supreme Court judge A.K. Sikri spoke passionately about giving women the right to choose what to do with their bodies. He spoke it is her body. It is her right. The choice has to be hers”, be it becoming pregnant, or terminating a pregnancy.
Speaking against men interfering in a woman’s decision to choose whether to have sex, to have babies, and to have a girl or a boy, he said, “When we talk of reproductive rights in India, then there is hardly any choice so far as the woman is concerned. I can’t help but wonder how we as humans have failed humanity…Reproductive right, which obviously is a human right, is based on the human dignity.
When we talk about reproductive rights, it is mixed with another right of women, that is the sexual right. When we talk of reproductive rights in India, there again the choice is of the husband or what the elders say…When there should be a child, whether that child should be boy or girl etc.”
“The societal standards should be changed, the mindset has to change to give equal rights to the women. We say women are the ‘better half’, but don’t even give the tag of the better half. At least give her the rights of an equal half.”
On one hand, women may be compelled to undergo abortion even when they don’t want to — as with female foeticides. On the other, she may be forced to reproduce against her wishes. Stereotypical depictions of women as homemakers and mothers only contribute to these factors.
As a result, women often resort to illegal or unsafe abortion methods. Studies have estimated that millions of women undergo abortion every year and over 50% of those are done in highly unsafe situations.
The fact remains, that a woman cannot have the right to decide whether to have babies or abort them, if she does not even have a say as far conceiving the baby goes. So while Justice Sikri’s comments are progressive in a society like ours, nothing will improve for women until mindsets change.
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