Evolution is change. It is progress. And we as a society are meant to be evolving. Yet if we have been taking two steps forward, why are we stuck in the place with respect to women’s rights over their own bodies after all these years?
Roe v. Wade was a landmark judgment that decriminalised abortion and granted to American women a constitutional right that every woman in the world deserves. After yesterday, the Supreme Court of the USA, two of the judges on the bench being accused sex offenders, has overturned this judgment giving every state in the country a way to frame laws against abortion.
It is has been said over and over in all these years that making abortion legal does not stop abortion. It only makes it more dangerous for women, especially for women who are poor, for women of colour, for women from abusive households, for women who are differently abled, for trans-men, making it more of a class issue as most things are. One simply cannot claim to be prolife when they do not care enough about the person who is in this world, alive, breathing and being forced to bear a child.
Every time abortion rights and women’s reproductive rights are being discussed, some Indians take pride that India isn’t regressive enough for this and we have a codified law that legalises abortion for any woman above 18 years of age whether married or unmarried.
But India is regressive enough for several if not all doctors to deny this legal right to women, especially unmarried women. Is a law enough to protect women from the stigma society has built around consensual premarital sex? Why must a woman’s choice to not have a child be limited to if the foetus has been conceived through traumatic events such as rape?
Yes, women in India have a right to terminate their pregnancy but at the same time hospitals also have a right to refuse these services to them or harass them for details of a ‘husband’ because god forbid a woman makes her own decisions without the guiding light of a man.
These circumstances, which are unfortunately not hypothetical and are very much based on true events, drive women to seek help from means that are more often than not, incapable of performing such procedures with the safety and precision that a legally conducted procedure would entail. Which is why, this taboo is not merely a thing that women can talk about in whispers, hushed voices and deal with behind closed curtains because it is a form of violence against women to give them a right with no means of exercising it.
Hence, we as Indians and global citizens must strive to create an environment where any woman, irrespective of her standing the society, is aware of her reproductive rights and does not need to feel hesitation or guilt in making her own decisions.