By Debanjana Choudhuri
As technology advances, healthcare laws, particularly concerning women are becoming regressive world over. And way things are moving, with increased restrictions to women accessing a basic right to health like that of access to safe abortions is becoming a Herculean task.
It is time that abortions are treated as a critical healthcare service which should be made available to every woman in a timely fashion and in a dignified, non-judgmental environment.
But the sad reality is that we are far from achieving the ideal scenario. Abortion services and care continue to be pushed back, often pregnant persons are being denied, and the stigmatized conversations are stifling discourse at all levels.
Let’s look at the history of International safe abortion day
International Safe Abortion Day came to light in support of women across the world for the right to safe and legal abortion practices. This day brings a sense of prioritizing sexual and reproductive health services for women. And despite concerted efforts by civil society organizations to increase awareness and access to safe abortion services, conversations are still shrouded by the regressive laws. Recently, a controversial new law has come into force in Hungary, which makes it mandatory for women seeking an abortion to listen to their unborn child’s heartbeat before going ahead with it. Similarly, Roe Vs Wade judgment which enabled countless women in USA to access safe abortions was recently overturned by US Supreme Court.
These recent legal decisions making abortions a difficult ask for women, have been a huge setback for women’s health right activists across the globe. And it is essential to note that these restrictive regulations for a right as basic as abortion, will not prevent more abortions from happening but will most definitely make the practice go underground, which will make it more unregulated but will stand to pose more health risks for women. And medical practitioners across the globe will agree that abortion or medical termination of pregnancy is otherwise a simple and safe minimal risk medical procedure.
In addition to restrictive laws and policies, high levels of unsafe abortion are driven by inadequate funding and coverage of abortion services; poor provider knowledge and attitudes; low levels of community awareness; and abortion stigma. When unable to access this essential health care, pregnant persons are denied their basic sexual and reproductive rights.
In the current day context, it is increasingly becoming more and more important to have conversations tilting in favour of inclusivity and non-judgment when it comes to healthcare delivery for women.
While efforts are underway to reduce abortion related stigma through the normalization of abortion in policy and public discourse – through rights-based advocacy, health worker education, community and religious leader engagement, mass media – it will be crucial for UHC efforts to succeed in improving the safety of abortion. Further evidence is needed on the contextual factors and processes that can encourage universal access to abortion, including the role of the non-public sector, interventions that can combat abortion stigma among different groups, and effective mechanisms for increasing public awareness about abortion rights and entitlements.
Universal access to health is for all and it is time to include abortion services in universal health coverage. It is high time we worked together to acknowledge that women have a right to decide what happens with their bodies. The fight is a long one…but it needs to go on.
(The author is climate and gender specialist. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)