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Let’s make our daughters more aware about their reproductive rights

We need to talk to our girls more about abortion and the rights they have pertaining to their own bodies. In India, fortunately, when it comes to reproductive agency in medical legality, women have their rights safeguarded. Any woman above the age of 18, with a pregnancy less than 20 weeks old, can get an abortion legally from any licensed clinic without the permission of any guardian or spouse. A 2015 survey showed 81% of abortions in India were medication abortions, 14% we’re done surgically and 5% done through unsafe measures and methods. According to the UN, India ranks fifth amongst the countries with the lowest abortion rates.  Despite legislative protection, unsafe abortion remains the third leading cause of maternal mortality in India, and close to eight women die from causes related to unsafe abortion each day.

Among public and private facilities that offer post-abortion care but not abortion, lack of trained staff or providers and lack of equipment or supplies are cited as major reasons for not providing abortion. Lack of registration to provide abortion is also a major barrier to provision among private facilities and is reported by 33–56% of private facilities across major Indian states that offer post-abortion care but not abortion. 

Contraceptive information provided to women by many facilities is inadequate. Among facilities that offer contraceptive counseling, large proportions in several states do not cover certain key topics regarding the provision of information related to the subject. For instance, only 8–27% of facilities report talking to patients about what to do in cases of method failure or incorrect use. In addition, the vast majority of facilities report they were out of stock of some contraceptive supplies at some point in the year. Poor quality of care is also reflected in the substantial proportion of abortion-providing facilities that report requiring some women to adopt a contraceptive method as a prerequisite for receiving an abortion.

Almost half of India’s 48.1 million pregnancies in 2015 were unintended, according to a new study on incidences of abortion and unintended pregnancy in India. This information and all of the above was published on December 12 in Lancet, a medical journal, in a study conducted by Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based research organisation working on reproductive health. 

A lot of the provisional compromises regarding abortion relates to the sociological dynamics of it. Abortion is a hugely taboo subject socially and is regarded through a moral or often religious compass. Since women’s purpose in life is largely related to becoming a mother, pregnancies are seen as a moral feminine compulsion even when women are psychologically or emotionally unprepared to be a mother. It is important for us to talk to our growing daughters about the rights concerning their reproductive capacities. Motherhood must always remain a choice. Being a mother isn’t the ultimate objective of women’s lives. It is important to talk about planning pregnancies based on one’s financial and emotional resources in life

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