The thought process and aftermath of abortion

In recent times, a lot has been said, discussed and debated upon the topic of abortion. Women’s right to abortion has been a long-standing battle in a deeply patriarchal world that we live in. Even today, women across the world are denied access to medical abortion and are thus forced to resort to other ways of inducing it such as back door abortion clinics.

Laws and rights regarding abortion are vague even today. Earlier in 2022, when USA, one of the most developed countries of the world, eliminated the right to abortion, many of us were left to wonder – is abortion legal in India? The answer is complicated. While voluntarily choosing to terminate a pregnancy is illegal in India, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act is an exception to the law. Under the 2021 amendment of the MTP Act, women/couples can seek to terminate the pregnancy up to 24 weeks by a registered medical practitioner uunder the circumstances listed in the Act.

Legalities aside, a lot of thought and contemplation goes into any woman/couple deciding to seek an abortion. MTV’s Nishedh Season 2 takes us through the story of Ajay and Sushmita, a happily married, young couple faced with an unplanned pregnancy just when they thought their lives couldn’t be more challenging. While both of them are fully aware that they are not prepared to have a child yet, they struggle to make the decision because of the fear of family as well as social stigma.

There have been many studies conducted over the years to understand why a woman/couple would choose to seek abortion. One such study identified the predominant themes as reasons for seeking abortion and it includes timing not being right, financial situation not being suitable to provide for a child, partner-related concerns, nature of conception (rape victim, incest) etc. Most women, however, state various reasons that cumulatively drive them to decide on terminating the pregnancy.

Deciding to seek an abortion has many physical and psychological effects on women. Physical recovery of abortion is quick, but may vary for every woman and depends on the abortion procedure. Some post-abortion effects include:

  • Period-type pain, stomach cramps
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Spotting that lasts for several weeks
  • Nausea and diarrhoea that stops within 3 days

To manage the pain, the doctor may prescribe some pain killers. In case of a surgical abortion, you may also be given antibiotics to help with the recovery. You can use pads, tampons or menstrual cups for the bleeding. You can also use a hot water bag for the stomach cramps.

Side effects of abortion pills include:

  • Bleeding
  • Uterine and stomach cramps
  • Back pain
  • Low potassium
  • Allergic reactions
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint and head pain
  • Overgrowth of uterine lining

There are also psychological effects of abortion. While a large number of women report feeling ‘relief’ post-abortion, some studies show that women also report feeling depressed, regretful, worried about not being able to conceive again, develop abnormal eating behaviours, etc.

On the contrary, a study published by the American Psychological Association (APA) on 1st September, 2022, found that while having an abortion is not linked to mental health problems, being denied access to safe, legal abortion is what causes harm. Research shows that people who were denied safe abortion reported worse mental health problems as compared to those who could access it. In fact, women who were denied abortion participated in the Turnaway Study and reported more anxiety, stress, low self-esteem and lower life satisfaction.

The above study brings to light the dire need for educating people across the globe about the need for access to safe and legal abortion practices to everyone with an ability to conceive. Children born from an unwanted pregnancy are at a higher risk of abuse, neglect, long-standing life distress,

There is still an undeniable and unavoidable social stigma attached to the idea of abortion and it can only be changed with time, awareness and a shift in the patriarchal judicial systems of the world.

Watch MTV Nishedh Season 2 now to witness a powerful story of young men and women navigating their way around topics like sex, abortion, tuberculosis and more. If you or anyone you know is seeking help for abortion/contraception/family planning, call 18001806789 today.

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