Despite being an essential health service, abortion 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 the 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!
The first time I heard the term ‘abortion’ was probably when I was a small kid. Abortion is basically an expulsion of the products of conception, but I didn’t know that when I first heard the term ‘abortion’. Many people considered it a sensitive or taboo topic. It was not openly discussed. I was clueless and scared because suddenly, a woman who has a kid does not have it any more.
Later, as I grew up, it was explained to me that not all abortions are harmful – some are done to prevent pain both for the mother and the baby. I also saw people around me get very sad after they lost something they produced for so long. It’s disheartening to lose a baby sometimes and people get voluntary abortions because either it’s a female child or they are not ready to be parents yet. You are killing a fetus, a child, whereas many people try years and years and do not have one. There are so many complications like bleeding, sepsis, and death.
This story is one of many submissions that we received, and is certainly not uncommon. Gendered expectations and societal notions around motherhood often cloud our perception on abortion. Often, despite knowing how abortions can be safely managed, the hegemonic narrative of sex-selection override other factors to influence our position away from support for choice and agency of the abortion-seeker. Data-driven, unbiased, and complete information delivered using a rights-based approach is key to creating an enabling environment for safe and legal abortion access for those who choose it.
This principle is central to The YP Foundation’s Abortion Campaign, which 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Read all the stories in the campaign here and follow us as we strive towards destigmatising abortion!