Abortion, despite being an essential health service, is treated as a taboo in most societies. The source of this stigma is often our immediate surroundings – families, friends, and the media. As part of The YP Foundation’s commitment to tackling stigma around abortion, we asked young people in our network to describe the first time they heard the word “abortion”. Here’s what we got!
I think I must have been in high school — maybe Grade 8 or 9, the year being 1992-93 — when I first heard about abortion, only a few years after knowing about sex. With the lack of internet or any other such media back then, I probably heard of it from seniors in the school. I don’t think I gave the topic too much thought back then because there were a lot of other things that were considered taboo even before you could reach the topic of abortion. For example, even having a boyfriend or talking to boys freely was something that wasn’t looked upon as ‘good girl’ behaviour.
Fast forward to 10 years later, to 2002. A lot of stigma around abortion seemed to have disappeared from peer groups at least. However, it wasn’t something you could exactly take to your parents. I knew of someone who got pregnant in her early 20s but had to lean on her friends to get an abortion rather than be able to tell her parents who might have had the experience to guide her better in what to do in a situation like that. It worked out okay for her, but it may not have, had she not got the right treatment.
Abortion today is associated more with women’s rights and human rights as it should always have been. Thanks to more awareness, social media, and multiple organisations working to make safe and easy abortion a choice for women around the world, many countries have amended their laws around abortion in the last 20 years.
For me, personally, I view abortion as a legal right of a woman to decide what she thinks is best for her. It is still shocking to see the kind of policies and laws around women’s rights in respect to abortion in so many countries. They are backward and regressive to say the least!
This story is one of many submissions that we received. The YP Foundation’s Abortion Campaign works towards destigmatising abortion and increasing access to safe and comprehensive abortion care services. We engage with young people to advocate for abortion as a reproductive right, especially among marine fisherfolk in Kerala and tea plantation labourers in Assam.
Want to join the conversation? Send in your experiences of hearing about abortion for the first time to email@example.com. Read all the stories in the campaign here and follow us as we strive towards destigmatising abortion!