I Am Pro Choice, But I Am Against Sex Selective Abortion

Posted: May 17, 2018

I’d say I’m pro choice, as I believe in a woman’s choice, yet I believe that sex-selective abortion for getting rid of girl babies is wrong.

Whenever I meet people at conferences, in social settings, etc. and we’re discussing politics, the social structure of our country and other countries, the laws, women’s rights, equality, feminism, etc., there’s this question that more often than not occurs in the conversation “are you pro choice or pro life?”

I’m a firm believer that whatever that needs to be done, should be done in terms of practicality, and most importantly with the consent and choice of the woman or the person carrying the baby.

What’s the difference between pro choice and pro life?

People who are pro choice basically believe that the person carrying the baby must have their right to decide if they want to keep it or abort it, or that they should not be compelled to take any decision, and it must be their own independent one.

People who are pro life believe that the baby must not be aborted at any stage of its development whatsoever, and should basically not be “killed”.

So when somebody asks me if I’m pro choice or pro life, I don’t know if I certainly belong to one of the two groups alone. There are many scenarios that are present in the current world, many circumstances that occur, and most importantly there are many different types of people and reasons to belong to either one of the social groups, and I’m not sure whether I belong to one discretely.

I’m pro choice…

I believe that the person carrying the baby must have their legal right to abort it, or to decide for themselves what they want to do with the baby at any and all stages of its development. The simple reason being that sometimes the person may not be well off to do, may not be earning enough, or may not be mentally or physically ready to take care of a child.

There are cases where after a woman gets pregnant, she is left alone as the man whom she was sexually involved with doesn’t want to take responsibility. There are cases of teen pregnancies where a 16 year old is pregnant and she may or she may not want to keep the child, because she is still a teenager and she needs to take care of herself as well, and neither is she mentally prepared to undergo the whole process of being a mother.

…but sometimes I am pro life too!

I am also constantly reminded that I belong to a land with a rich history and culture, some of which I respect, but much of which I think is outdated, and needs to grow and develop with time.

The sad reality of my country is that even today, there are millions who think that having a girl child is a burden, and is considered almost like a sin. This has many reasons that are rooted to other social issues such as dowry, period being considered a taboo, etc.

So when I say I’m pro choice, and I believe that the mother or the person who the baby belongs to should be allowed to decide weather or not they want to abort, I’m also saying that I believe the same for everybody. However, I do not support abortion based on the gender or the baby. This makes me want to come to the point that I’m pro life as well. A part of me is pro life too. As I mentioned the social issues and practices that are actually being practiced even now in my country, it makes me want to be pro life. The issue is not just about the girl child here, it is also about the education that these people who believe in such things receive. We have such a huge population of our country that believes and follows such customs and traditions, where they consider the girl child to be a burden, less important and a liability to the family.

The conundrum faced by our judicial system

We’ve always been talking about how our judicial system does nothing for this, but a part of me understands some of their problem too.

As much as I want our judicial system to change and remake the laws of our country to be pro choice, I don’t want them to do it in a hurry or haphazardly. Because to distinguish the actual cause of the abortion will not be in the hands of the judiciary, one can simply lie or be forced to lie. This gives both the sides of society – the ones who cannot or do not want to have a baby, and the ones who kill their baby based on their gender – the legal freedom of doing whatever they want, and at the same time not giving them the freedom to make their own decisions.

Abortions after 20 weeks

Abortion is illegal in India after 20 weeks of pregnancy, as the constitution states, except under specific conditions:

  • if the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of physical or mental health,
  • and if there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

It is possible to identify the gender of the baby by 20 weeks of pregnancy, and it is also after 20 weeks that it is possible to find out if there are any abnormalities that the baby may be born with.

The question of sex selective abortion is not permitted because it is unconstitutional, but a lot of illegal abortions happen in India, and can land the mother and relatives in trouble. But the question that remains is that if a particular case fits the above specific conditions, why are women still not allowed to abort their child in cases where they have detected illness and disorders such as down syndrome that the child may be born with?

Abortion for rape victims

Another error that prevails in our legal system is that there is no provision or allowance for rape victims to abort. The judiciary may have allowed a few one or two women to do so, but many are denied that right. Even though I personally agree it is hard to make laws in a country that is influenced by various types of traditions, I firmly believe there must be a provision for those who have become pregnant after being sexually assaulted or raped.

After going through so many cases and reports online, the social practices that are followed in my country, and the different aspects that the judiciary needs to look into before actually providing a firm solution or response to a problem, I realized that not everything is black and white, and that there are a million shades of grey, red and blue that come along with it. And even though these million shades between black and white exist, I believe our legal system needs more structure and clarity to be really efficient.

It is hard for me to conclude for certain if I’m pro choice or pro life in the given scenarios, but I’m certain of the principles that I believe in, and I hope someday the people of my country also do the right thing.

Published here earlier.

Image source: pixabay

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  1. Important issue! Moreover, in a country like India, sex selective abortion is often NOT freedom of choice – many women are actually forced into such abortions in the case of female foetuses by the family members.

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