Women’s rights activists have spent decades trying to give women the power to choose the fate of her own body. Abortion now is and should be entirely at the discretion of the woman. No one should be forced to bear a child to term against their will. The is the essence of the “pro choice” side of the argument. It stresses on the fact that a woman’s desire to have an abortion shouldn’t be questioned. Her reasons are her own. She may not be ready psychologically, not ready financially, or perhaps just bored. All reasons are valid since it’s her body and her choice.
So why is sex selective abortion illegal in India?
This is a very tricky issue especially when it comes to women’s rights. If a woman desires an abortion because the fetus growing inside her is female, shouldn’t she have the right via the above logic to abort? And yet most people I know in India – men and women – support the ban on sex selective abortion. This can be made into an emotive issue calling it the “murder of little girls”, but a fetus before a certain age is not a person and doesn’t have the rights of a person. Besides, that should be true for all abortions not just female fetuses. If we’re ok with abortion in general, we shouldn’t have a special problem with the abortion of female fetuses.
We all know that the sex ratio in many parts of India is skewed. The principled way to fix this is by educating people and correcting the mindsets of people in this generation, and the next, and the next. By creating a law banning abortions in case of a female fetus, we are carving out an exception to a woman’s right to control over her own body. If a woman simply does not want to give birth to a girl, the law is essentially forcing her to carry it to term. And this is precisely what women’s groups have been fighting for. The right of a woman to control her own destiny and her own body.
Consider that abortions can be performed for any reason. It’s even ok if a woman says “I’m just not ready”. Or “I made a mistake”. All of these are valid reasons and no one will question them. So how come if the woman says “I don’t want a girl” or “I don’t want a boy”, there’s suddenly an uproar? Do her rights suddenly cease to exist? Is she now merely a vessel for bringing another body into the world that she doesn’t want? In essence, the government has hijacked her body for promoting its own social agenda.
Does anyone other than me find this disturbing?
Two things before I wrap up:
1. I’m obviously not saying that sex selective abortion is a good thing. I think it’s a horrible choice to make. I just don’t feel it should override a woman’s decision to take control over her own body.
2. Many say that it’s not really the woman’s choice. I say bollocks. Unless she’s drugged or taken kicking and screaming to the hospital and forcibly put under anesthesia, it is her choice as an adult. If she’s above 18, we have to treat her as an adult. If she’s chosen to listen to her relatives that doesn’t mean her choice is being taken away.