Master of Arts (MA)
Tanvi and Meera both went to get abortions this year, but only one survived. Even though abortions before 20 weeks have been legal since 1971, as many as three women die every day from unsafe abortions, government data shows. Half of all pregnancies in India are unwanted, resulting in more than 15 million abortions a year. Many go unreported, taking place in the shadows because of stigma. Although a new generation in India is growing more open about sexuality, getting pregnant outside of marriage can still ruin a woman’s reputation, shame her family and damage her future prospects. Even if women are already married, abortion is still taboo.
In the past decade, access to trained doctors and medical abortion pills has expanded. Maternal deaths dropped. Yet the stigma persists. Women, fearing exposure, often avoid public hospitals. Instead, they seek out unregulated private clinics, visit local healthcare providers or take over-the-counter abortion pills without medical supervision. Where a woman lives, how much she knows about abortion and where she goes for the procedure can make the difference between life and death - like it did for Tanvi and Meera - but the shame they share is the same.
Moench, Mallory, "When Stigma Kills: Why Abortion in India is Lethal Even Though It’s Legal" (2017). CUNY Academic Works.
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