Society and Culture

The Responsibility Of Choice

MTP Act must be backed up with an appropriate social and regulatory environment

Feb 26, 2017
Jane Roe aka Norma McCorvey was the litigant in the famous Roe versus Wade case that led to legalisation of abortion in the US. McCorvey passed away last Saturday, leaving behind a life that depicted the abortion dilemma. McCorvey became an advocate of the pro-choice movement that argued for a woman’s right to decide on whether to carry on or terminate her pregnancy. Mid-way, McCorvey became a pro-life advocate, arguing against abortion, and for the rights of the unborn foetus. Pro-choice versus pro-life remain at the centre of an often acrimonious ethical, legal, theological and political debate in the US.
In India, pro-life versus pro-choice debates are confined primarily to academia, as the abortion narrative has been determined by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act. This pro-choice endowment was a utilitarian public health strategy aimed at the alarming increase in the population growth before the 1970s. It was also targeted towards preventing maternal deaths from illegal abortions, carried out by back-alley abortionists. India was the first country to launch a family planning programme in 1952. The idea of this programme was to promote the use of contraceptives to delay or space out a pregnancy. Whatever the family planning programme has tried over the years through different marketing strategies has only made a small dent. Sterilisation remains the permanent method of contraception, after she or the family has decided on the desired number of children. Unfortunately, legalised abortion has become a convenient standby, as a woman can cite contraceptive failure to abort an unwanted pregnancy. Beyond the actual cases of true contraceptive failure, the easy access to abortion services has perhaps promoted a certain amount of irresponsibility, with women’s rights often over-riding discussions on the rights of the unborn child.
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Indian Express, February 27, 2017

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