Is criminalisation a bad idea around abortion services?

Whenever there is any conversation around any new law there is a lot of focus on punitive aspects of laws that focus more on criminalisation . The US debates around abortion laws has brought back to focus on criminalisation debate.

Even in India, the Indian Penal Code, still penalises women if she has induced miscarriages.

What is happening around abortion bill in US?

The Abortion bill passed sought to prohibit abortions at every stage of pregnancy and puts doctor under the risk of criminalisation. It includes an exception for cases where a woman’s health is at “serious” risk but this is still under debates.

What it really means?

Women who have abortions will not be prosecuted under the measure though courts can send doctors to 99 years in prison for performing the procedure.

Will it affect the abortion services in US?

Abortion services will still be available in Alabama for the time being. At the earliest, the measure will take effect in six months only.

Why this matters to us in India?

There is a global trend around the world where states are reducing their services for women’s health. Women and other minority rights are coming under attack.

At present in India, if a woman needs to terminate her pregnancy, she needs a doctor to give their approval for abortion. It may be more more progressive than US but India public policy does get affected by debates in US.

How can advocates reconceptualize abortion regulation and move away from criminalisation approach?

At Hidden Pockets, we have been connecting young clients to abortion service providers across cities in India. It has been disappointing for us to realise sitting in Delhi and Bangalore, how little legislations reflect at ground level. 

If you want personal assistance, you can WhatsApp us at 8861713567.

Problems faced by young people:

Most of the people who come to access services have two basic barriers to face:


2. Cost

Legal status:

95% of people believe that abortion is illegal which translates in layman’s language going to jail for getting an abortion. Because of lack of knowledge, young people often end up going to quacks, or unregistered doctors.

The limited reading of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act has ensured that people dont think abortion as a right.

It is only in the dire situation that one would even imagine of going to a doctor. Which completely defeats the purpose of the law – which intended to prevent or terminate unwanted pregnancies. 

If one’s pregnancy does not fall under any of the clauses, one is a criminal and this is what criminal jurisprudence does. 

The law completely ignores the fact that these procedures are being performed on bodies of women, who are completely scared, unaware about their options and are feeling really horrible. 

2 comments Add a comment

  1. Single women all the more needs help if pregnancy occurs and they want to abort the being inside of her, abortion should be a very healthy and open subject for them. The fact that married women can and unmarried women can’t abort, brings out the fact that women aren’t anything without a man’s name to back her up. The patriarchal society where we strive hard for consent, abortion seems some far reached magical syndrome. Women, whether married or unmarried should have the right to get an abortion if she wants. And the question of “the baby is also of the man, so he gets a say”- NO, he doesn’t, as it is the woman who will be carrying her for 9 months. So she knows if she is willing to go through that pain/happiness. Abortion isn’t murder, it is a step to help prevent unnecessary suicides that women commit to escape the shame- which again brings us infront of the society that we live in.

    Abortion should be legalized this way or that way, as , as long as the being is inside her, it is the woman who choses to keep it or not. The moman’s psychological and mental and physical well being is more important than some cluster of cells(it isn’t a full form baby as soon as the impregnation happens)-as even cancerous cells are operated and removed. But yes there should definitely be a period limit after which abortion should be questioned, but not criminalized.

  2. Abortion must be legalized worldwide, because I myself have had 2+ abortions and I have a lot of experience how a woman life can be tortured during the time she is in need of terminating unwanted pregnancy and she is denied access to health services. Women in the world deserve the right to abortion and choice to their body. We who have had more than one abortion we have been tortured in mind , shame and we have been stigmatized all throughout our lives . I would like to appeal to governments worldwide to take and embrace abortion as women right.

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