Millennium Post

'Heartbeat' abortion

Last month, Indiana initiated a near-total ban on abortion in America. Days later, Ohio passed a bill banning it in the very early weeks of pregnancy after a fetal heartbeat is noticed. Next came Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama who signed a bill effectively banning the procedure in totality, even issuing prison sentences of up to 99 years for doctors. States across the United States are passing some of the most restrictive abortion legislation in decades, triggering significant court battles that could profoundly reshape the abortion approach in America and even throughout the world. Ivey even tweeted a photo of herself signing the bill with the caption "To the bill's many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians' deeply held belief that every life is precious & that every life is a sacred gift from God." New York has sought to bolster abortion rights this year. Chile had already eased its ban in 2017. Last year, Ireland's near-total ban resonated worldwide. It is the right of women to control their own bodies and their lives. However, in India, four decades after the legalisation, there isn't any access to safe abortion services and the picture is quite grim. Part of addressing this challenge requires an understanding of the legal framework for liberalising abortion, acting on its shortcomings and addressing the regulatory guidelines. Unsafe abortions outnumber safe and legal procedures by large numbers. The biggest barrier to safe abortion care in India is perhaps related to the issue of sex-selective abortions. The situation is made worse by the fact that there is a lack of clear understanding of the acts and measures that are in place not only among the users of services but also among the providers. Officials carrying out stringent inspections to curb sex determination end up in massive clamp downs with gynaecologists and qualified practitioners becoming guarded in providing abortion facilities, posing a major challenge to women trying to access services. Each day almost 70,000 unsafe abortions are carried out around the world with the majority of them taking place in developing countries. Around 25 per cent of maternal deaths in Asia and 30-50 per cent of maternal deaths in Africa and Latin America occur as a result of induced abortion and they are vastly more likely to happen in countries with stricter laws. It is, therefore, important to understand and accept that no law can actually end abortions. However, authorities can only severe its restrictions and impose harsher penalties to keep a strict vigil. It is also important to remember that restricting access to abortion doesn't just harm women — it harms their children as well and thus, it is imperative to view it more holistically than ever.

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