Mon Sep 28
An Account of Struggle for Safe Abortion
I am a medical professional. I got married in 2004 and although my husband was using protection, I got pregnant in August 2005. I was 26 years old at that time. I was looking for a job and my husband too was settling in his new work. At the same time, both of us were getting used to our new life together as a married couple. We discussed the pregnancy at length and agreed that we were not prepared in any way to start a family. We were using contraception exactly for the purpose of delaying pregnancy. After a lot of thinking, we decided that we are not ready to continue the pregnancy at this stage.
Despite being from a medical background I was not aware that abortion is legal in India. We were skeptical yet approached a reputed hospital in Noida. I was shocked when during the consultation I was told by the doctor and I quote- “8 months to ho gaye shaadi ko. Aur kitne maze karne hain…pehla bachcha giraoge to bhagwaan bachcha nahi dega zindagi bhar!”
We were made to feel guilty for our decision. However, we did not have the provisions to bring a child in the world and care for it at that stage in our life. We discussed again and decided to go to a private clinic. We met the doctor there who agreed to provide us abortion services. We were satisfied since we got proper services without any biases and complications.
2017- Thirteen years into our marriage, we are a happy family today with two beautiful children. My husband and I have a very good life together and both our children are studying in good schools. His career is progressing very well, and I also work part time while spending quality time with my children.
And just when we thought life was perfect, I got pregnant again…I have to be honest that this time we were only relying on the biological clock! Based on my previous experience at a hospital, this time I consulted a clinic in Gurgaon. And again, was sent back stating.. ‘I can’t prescribe at my clinic you have to come to the hospital as Haryana Government is really strict with abortions and IT IS NOT ALLOWED IN HARYANA!!’
I was sure this time that abortion is legal in India, so I consulted another Obstetrician. She advised an ultrasound and based on the report, suggested surgical abortion as the pregnancy was seven weeks! I was very concerned about getting a surgical termination because our insurance did not cover MTP. I was very stressed because this would require me to plan for my children’s care while I was admitted; inform my parents and in-laws which I did not wish to do. I was as it is unhappy about having gotten pregnant once again without any plans to have a third child. We almost went ahead with the admission to the hospital when I shared this with a close friend and she advised that it is safe to go ahead with medical termination at seven weeks. This was such a useful piece of information for me because I only wanted medical abortion but was going ahead with surgical on the advice of the doctor.
I consulted another provider and after examining me and confirming the gestation age, she prescribed MMA drugs. I took the first pill in her clinic and over the course of the next couple of days, completed the abortion process in the convenience of my home; all this while taking care of my kids, husband, work and myself without any complications.
While I have vowed to use safer contraception now for the rest of my life, I do want to share that there was and continues to be psychological impact of having a termination. While I was not guilty when I took the decision to abort, I did end up feeling guilty and depressed because of all the pressure. The guilt was in a way aggravated by my doctors in both scenarios who made us feel like we are committing a crime. The support of my husband and close friends helped me tide over this time.
Having an abortion is more than just a medical procedure. It is an emotional decision and procedure and if even after been educated and with all the support, I felt the need to hide this from the family, not disclose my name today and not knowing the legality of abortion and protocol for MMA despite being a medical professional, makes me think how complex it must be for other women who are not so privileged as me. We need to do something to increase awareness among women about abortion legality, contraceptives and strengthen access to non-judgmental care.
Writer’s name is confidential
The views and opinion written in the blog are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Ipas Development Foundation.