Features Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 05:30
The Purvi Patel case has once again opened up the debate on reproductive rights. While pro-choice activists believe that the right to abort is integral to a woman's freedom, pro-lifers equate abortion to murder. Indian laws are quite liberal when it comes to abortion but there is still a lot of stigma and judgment attached to the decision. In this series, we speak to Indian women who have undergone an abortion for various reasons – why they did it, how they felt about it, and why it’s important for all of us to understand their choice. Shruti, an IT professional who recently quit her job to become a stay-at-home mum, was twenty-one when she got married. She became pregnant with her first child when she was twenty-six. But when her son was just 7 months old, Shruti discovered that she had become pregnant again. Her first pregnancy hadn’t been an easy one. Shruti is obese and developed gestational diabetes during the pregnancy. She had to be on insulin because of this. Post her son’s birth, she was looking forward to returning to work after her long leave. When the pregnancy test came out positive the second time round, Shruti simply didn’t feel she was ready for the responsibility of managing two young children. She decided to go in for an abortion. The fetus was 9 weeks old when she took the decision. Shruti’s husband was supportive as he, too, shared her concerns about the risks and consequences of a second pregnancy so close on the heels of the first one. The couple took the decision together and informed their respective families. Shruti’s gynecologist tried to convince her to continue with the pregnancy.   “My doctor felt I could complete my family by having the second child and then figure out ways to manage the health issues. However, I was determined to go in for an abortion.” Since her mind was made up, Shruti did not feel especially guilty after the abortion was done. But she does get riled up when people make assumptions about her when they come to know of her decision. Initially, only her close family members knew about it but she began telling others when she found them struggling with the same dilemmas that she once went through. Though she’d just gone through a pregnancy and childbirth, Shruti was focused on not thinking of the fetus as a baby. Women don't react to every pregnancy in the same way - it depends to a large extent on the circumstances they are in when the news comes. In Shruti's case, the pregnancy was an unwanted one and she wanted to move on with her life. Shruti feels strongly that the decision to abort should be the prerogative of the woman though it is only fair to go through the pros and cons of it with her partner if possible. She believes that religious and social reasons should not be attached to the decision. People should be free to determine the size of their own families. Though Shruti is very much pro-choice, she does not think sex selective abortions should be permitted as the issue there is different and is tied up with the low status of women in the country. Shruti is at peace with her decision and hopes that sharing her story will help more women come to terms with the difficult choices that they sometimes have to make. 
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