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7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Ashamed Or Guilty About Wanting Or Having An Abortion

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By Shambhavi Saxena

The reasons we furnish to discourage a woman from having an abortion are endless, but in all honesty, they aren’t very good reasons. Based on abstract and oppressive ideas of ‘honour and duty’, of ‘shame and of guilt’, these reasons are used to pressurise women into carrying the pregnancy to term. But this commitment of 9 months is something that a woman alone can make, and her decision, whatever it might be, needs to be respected. So if you’re someone who has had or is planning to have an abortion based on any of the following thought processes, don’t be guilty about your choice:

woman silhouette 1

1. Just Not Ready

The nine-month gestation period is nothing like what your average American sitcom would have you believe. Rebecca Roher’s comic that depicts pregnancy in as honest a way as we’ve ever seen is probably the best insight ever into what a woman goes through during this period. While the experience varies from woman to woman, and from age to age, pregnancy can be an extremely uncomfortable and even excruciating period. In the catholic environs of Galway, Ireland, Savita Halappanavar was denied an abortion even when going through immense pain during pregnancy. She died of septicaemia. So yes, either psychologically or physically, your body might just not be ready to have a child –it is perfectly OKAY.

2. No Support System

There’s an old Nigerian proverb that says, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Do you have the necessary familiar support network to help you do this? Does your workplace allow for maternity (and paternity) leave? Is your partner going to invest as much in raising this child as you are? Even in the case of single or working adults, access to health care and day care facilities is a must. Absence of an effective and strong child care support system is a perfectly valid reason to not want to carry a pregnancy to term and opt for abortion

3. Money Is A Concern

Child care is a costly affair. It requires frequent visits to medical practitioners; it requires thinking about school and college fees and a whole lot more. Not everyone is in a position to provide for their child, and if you have the option of delaying having children, or not having them at all, then there is absolutely no shame in opting for an abortion.

4. ‘Pressure’ Isn’t Fair

Sometimes your family or your partner’s family may place expectations of motherhood on you, when the time isn’t right– maybe you still want to work, maybe your work takes you to environments that are not conducive for pregnant women or new mothers. A woman has full right to terminate a pregnancy that she does not actively want, as much as an unplanned one. Given that it is your body that will undergo changes for nine months, nobody should make this decision on your behalf. Amirite or Amirite?

5. Contraception Failed You

The very fact that you or your partner used or wanted to use contraception means you are not planning on having children just yet. You should be fully able to terminate any such unwanted pregnancies, and you are not required to ‘take permission’ from your partner or anyone for this.

6. Don’t Really Want Children

Whether or not you have these so-called maternal instincts, the choice to have children or not belongs to you. If raising children is just not your cup of tea, or what you want out of life, then having access to a safe abortion is your right.

7. Not All Sex Has To Be Procreative

Many hold the mistaken belief that the only reason people have sex is in order to have children. But sex can be purely for pleasure. Denying women their right to a safe abortion is then just a way of curbing and sanitizing female sexuality. Transforming women’s sexuality into motherhood is also a form of control, and you shouldn’t have to stand for it. You have the right to sexual pleasure without being punished with a child you didn’t want or are not ready for!

We can’t say it enough, but your body is yours. To have children or to have an abortion should be entirely your decision, and nobody should take that away from you. A culture that stigmatises a woman for a perfectly valid choice is one that still wants to dictate to her what her choice should be. And that then is really not freedom at all. Because freedom to choose is either complete or not really there. A woman’s right to her body must not come with riders attached.

You must be to comment.
  1. Amlan

    But its always better for people to take serious precautions instead of being careless beforehand to avoid unwanted and unintended pregnancy.Thats why usually, its better if sex is limited withn marital bonds.Generally it provides a more safer environment to support a child, its more difficult for your partner to escape.Well i wont say marriage makes all pregnancies acceptable, premarital pragnancies are more difficult.Moreover, marriage doesnt give men to force pregnancy to their wives, ultimately the descision to have children always lies with a women herself, hence sex should be always done with utmost care.Husbands who do not tend to be carefull during sex or who tries to rape their wives deserve to be divorced and punished by law.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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