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What Do Womxn Think About Abortion Rights? Here’s A Global Perspective!

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There are many womxn that make awful decisions because others want them to, and they aren’t strong enough to do what is right for them. Yes, we are talking about abortion today. This article isn’t going to tell you about some laws in certain countries. Instead, this is a discourse of what womxn themselves think about abortion rights. The voice of womxn must be heard and taken into consideration. At the end of the day, abortion (or no abortion) takes a toll on them. For more information on the legalities regarding abortion, read this previously published article by Avni Gupta.

Yes, Abortion Must Be Legalised!

“According to me, there is no reason as to why womxn shouldn’t be making decisions on their sexual and reproductive life. It is important that we stop claiming that controlling womxn’s bodies is a part of a religion. Men don’t have a body that is controlled by others. So why should womxn? Accepting womxn can do what they want is proof that society is showing respect towards them,” says 30-year-old Mélissa from France.

“I think abortion is a human right (pregnancy isn’t just a woman-thing), and so it must be legalised. As an individual who can get pregnant, it is about my body, so in this case, only I can make decisions about my body. In addition, abortion is about biology – it is hence related to science – not religion or belief. This right is valid in all situations, especially in those cases that include health risks for the embryo and its mother,” says Ilayda, a University student from Turkey.

Source: The Logical Indian

A Big No To Abortion!

How can the ‘Dream’ survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate,” said Martin Luther King Jr. Let’s now see what womxn themselves have got to say against abortion.

“There’s a vast difference between ‘being human’ and a ‘human being.’ At this point, it is not about rights over the human body but rather over making them legal. Abortion is something I will live to condemn people for carrying out. Pregnancy is not an outcome of the actions of the fetus. Why would you like to get rid of an innocent soul likely to bring energy and hope to many? Abortion is not only inhuman but also a very selfish decision taken. On that note, I stand for religion over rights. We are meant to learn from mishaps and take calculative steps to solve matters. In case of unwanted pregnancy, society should look for ways to make the womxn realize the unerasable loss and encourage them to explore the optimism in the seemingly unwanted pregnancy,” says Meda, a student from Uganda.

“Abortion isn’t about religion, but life. In cases other than rape, the partners should plan about when they want to make a baby. Even if there is an unwanted pregnancy, the couple should not commit another mistake by killing an embryo. And for rape survivors, it is upon the victim and their family to take the decision. One big issue in any country is that when legislation is passed, it is actually misused in such a way that it benefits those that it isn’t made for. So the ground reality is that the law is not really applied to rape victims but to those who take advantage of it. So, I’d say abortion rights must be given only to victims of sexual abuse,” says Sindhu, a 27-year-old from India.

“As a Christian and follower of Jesus, I base all my opinion on what the Bible says. I think abortion should not be legalized or even be an option. This is because our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and who even gives us the right to kill someone? I know that I won’t get an abortion no matter the circumstances,” says Prachi, a University student from Venezuela.

Photo by Allison Joyce

It’s Complicated!

“I have mixed opinions on abortion though I am a bit inclined towards the negative aspect, especially because there are measures most couples can take to avoid pregnancies. Ignorance and recklessness before or during sexual contact cannot be the sole grounds for an abortion. It should, however, be supported in cases wherein there is a threat to the lives of either (or both) the mother and the baby. Abortion is legal in some countries on the note that one has complete rights over one’s bodies. However, a bit of consciousness would have avoided the unwanted pregnancy in most cases,” says Niharika, from India.

“According to me, abortion is not about religion but is a personal choice. If there is a medical complication during pregnancy and abortion can save lives, we should definitely go for it. If not, the couple must be sensitive and see if they can give the child for adoption,” says Jaweria from Pakistan.

Conclusion

Whenever something is declared illegal, the activity doesn’t go extinct – it just is done clandestinely. Now, in my opinion, abortion must be made legal, and there should be stringent mechanisms in place to assess if someone really needs to undergo an abortion. In the case of rape victims (including marital rape), there should be speedy abortion to ensure the mother’s life isn’t at stake for some mistake that they never committed.

As for unplanned pregnancies, abortions could be made legal until, say, 10-15 weeks into pregnancy to not pressurize couples into parenting while they aren’t ready. Also, on the other hand, womxn must take into consideration the impact that abortion could have on their health in the long-run and then decide upon whether or not to proceed with an abortion.

In conclusion, as Bernie Sanders quotes, “We are not going back. We are not returning to the days of back-room abortions, where countless women died or were maimed. The decision about abortion must remain a decision for the woman, her family, and a physician to make, not the government.”

Written by: Uma Sathwika Manda

Featured image: The Better India

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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.

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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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