From the Viewsroom

Alabama’s retrograde abortion law

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on May 16, 2019 Published on May 16, 2019

Abortion debate must focus on health of the mother and her baby

This week saw Alabama sign what is being headlined as the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the US. A law that makes an exception for a pregnancy that could be lethal to the health of the mother or child, even as it is non-accepting of situations of rape and incest.

And this has public health and women’s right campaigners worried that Alabama’s extreme step could trigger similar moves in other states in the US. In fact, that could just be closer to the truth as discussions on abortion become a heady mix of politics and religion. When in fact, it should have nothing to do with either. Discussions on abortion or the medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) should be focussed with sensitivity on the health of the mother and her baby.

Just last year Ireland had historically overturned a 35-year old anti-abortion law, following the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar. Savita had virtually become the face of the Irish campaign to change the regressive law after she had died on being denied an abortion following a miscarriage.

Abortion is a highly emotive issue and often gets sidetracked by pro-life movements. Lost in the din is the fact that an MTP is not a happy choice for a woman to make. And if indeed she is making that choice, it often is a deeply personal, emotional and sensitive time for her, where she needs psychological and family support.

Lawmakers can set about defining, with scientific minds and gynaecologists, when it is appropriate to call a foetus a baby. It could be 24 weeks or 28 weeks, as in India. And this period, gynaecologists say, can be tricky for the health of mother and child.

Finally though, it all comes down to the woman, her body, reproductive rights and the health of her child. And that is decision that the rest will just need to respect, without noise, rancour or judgement.

Published on May 16, 2019
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