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Empowering Choice: Exploring the Complexities of Abortion Rights

Abortion is defined as the removal of a fetus before it has attained viability from the uterus (in human beings, usually about the 20th week of gestation).

There are two types of abortions and two treatments for abortion. An abortion can be purposely created, in which case it is often referred to as an induced abortion, or it can occur unintentionally, in which case it is commonly referenced to as a miscarriage.

The two treatments are medical and surgical. Medical abortion involves abortion pills. They can be taken either for pregnancies up to 10 weeks or one can take a different abortion pill for pregnancies from 10 weeks up to 24 weeks.

Surgical abortion includes a minor operation. There are two methods for a surgical abortion, one is vacuum aspiration up to 15 weeks of pregnancies and the second is dilatation and evacuation between 15 and 24 weeks of pregnancies.

What are abortion rights

Access to secure abortion procedures is a human right. Under international human rights law, all individuals have the right to life, health, and freedom from mistreatment, discrimination, and other forms of inhumane or degrading treatment. Bodily autonomy, or the freedom to make your own decisions regarding your body, is expressly stated in human rights law. Someone's human rights, especially the rights to privacy and body autonomy, are breached if they are forced to carry on an unwanted pregnancy or to seek out an unsafe abortion.

So, achieving social and gender justice requires access to abortion, which is directly correlated to defending and respecting the human rights of women, girls, and those who are capable of getting pregnant.

Criminalization of abortion and its affect

Girls and women who are refused abortion accessibility continue to require procedures. Because of this, efforts to limit or outlaw abortions have little effect on the number of abortions; instead, they just drive women to hazardous abortion clinics.

Unsafe abortions are "a procedure for eliminating a pregnancy that is unplanned carried out either by someone lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that fails to live up to basic medical requirements, or both," according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A legal abortion carried out by a trained medical expert is less likely to end in death than an unsafe abortion. According to the WHO, unsafe abortions are so widespread that they account for five million extra entirely preventable defects and are currently the third most prevalent cause of maternal death worldwide.

More than 50 nations have amended their laws in the past 25 years to make abortion more accessible, sometimes realising the critical role that access to safe abortion plays in safeguarding women's lives and health. On May 25, 2018, the people of Ireland, in a long-awaited referendum, decided to repeal the nearly complete constitutional ban on abortion.

Medical professionals are prevented from performing their duties effectively and from offering their patients the best care options in accordance with accepted medical standards and their obligations under their professional and ethical codes when abortion is criminalised and subject to restrictive laws.

Medical professionals may not be mindful of the legal constraints or may interpret them more severely than is required as a result of the criminalising of abortion, a phenomenon known as the "chilling effect."

This could be due to a variety of factors, such as personal convictions, stigma around abortion, unfavourable stereotypes of women and girls, or worry about facing legal repercussions.

Additionally, it discourages women and girls from seeking post-abortion care for issues connected to unsafe abortions or other difficulties associated to pregnancy.

The criminalization of abortion and other restrictive abortion laws and regulations are strongly connected to the stigma associated with it and gender stereotypes.

Health care professionals, family members, and the judiciary, among others, stigmatise women and girls just because they believe abortion is wrong or unethical. Abortion-seeking women and girls incur the danger of discrimination and harassment. When seeking abortion services or post-abortion care, several women have claimed that medical professionals have harmed and humiliated them.

What is the MTP Act 2021 (Indian Pov)

According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, all women, regardless of their marital status, are eligible to safe and legal abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Since the implementation of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971, abortion has been a legal claim in India in a variety of situations. In order to provide women with access to safe and authorised abortion services, the Act was revised in 2003. The government's public national health insurance programmes, Ayushman Bharat and Workers' State Insurance, cover surgical abortions at a package rate at 100% of the cost.

Significant Changes From Amendment:
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021, has made the following significant changes:
  1. Only for certain categories of pregnant women, such as those who have experienced sexual assault or incest, has the gestational limit for abortions been raised from the previous maximum of 20 weeks to 24 weeks. Yet, two licensed doctors would need to approve of this termination.
  2. One physician's approval is required for all pregnancies up to 20 weeks. The MTP Act of 1971, the previous law, required two doctors' approvals for pregnancies between 12 and 20 weeks and one doctor's clearance for pregnancies up to 12 weeks.
  3. No matter their marital status, women can now end unwanted pregnancies brought on by contraceptive failure. Before, the legislation stated that only "married women and their husbands".
  4. In cases of foetal disability, there is no maximum gestational age for abortion if the decision is made by a medical board composed of specialists, which state governments and union territory administrations would establish up.

Importance Of This Act:
  1. By contributing in the abolition of preventable maternal deaths, the new law will contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 5.
  2. SDG 3.1 is concerned with reducing the rate of maternal deaths, whereas SDGs 3.7 and 5.6 are concerned with ensuring that all individuals have a right to reproductive and sexual health and rights.
  3. With the changes, more women will have accessibility to healthy abortion services, and those who must end a pregnancy will be treated fairly, with respect, autonomy, and confidentiality.

Limitations To This Act:
  1. It forbids demand-based abortions at any stage following pregnancy. Abortion is only permitted in specific circumstances, such as rape, foetal abnormalities, and risk to the woman's physical or mental health, and not because she voluntarily decided not to have the baby.
  2. The act does not specify about sex-selection-based abortions.
  3. While women above the age of 18 are guaranteed privacy, women under 18 are not given the secrecy provision and their guardians must be notified. This might encourage children to use risky abortion techniques.
  4. It raises the legal gestational limit for abortion from 20 to 24 weeks, but only for certain groups of women, such as rape survivors, incest sufferers, and juveniles. Because of the initial provisions, this may increase third-party authorization for abortion care.
  5. It is absent on the need to educate the public and healthcare professionals on safe sex practices and the right to an abortion, which would help to reduce the stigma attached to MTP.
  6. It upholds the legacy of population control under heteropatriarchy, which denies women freedom over their own bodies.

Safe abortion practices are a human right. Women should have the freedom over their own body and must be allowed to make decisions about their pregnancies without circumstances restricting them. The MTP Act 2021 is a big step forward but it still lacks in some areas. The public must be educated about safe sex practices and must be made aware that abortion is not something to be shamed about.

  • What is research:
  • What is research paper:
  • What is abortion:
  • Abortion treatments:
  • Abortion rights:
  • Criminalisation of abortion:
  • MTP Act:
  • Limitations of MTP:

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