More on Abortion in India… March 9, 2006Posted by scan man in Ethics, Medicine, News, Politics, Religion.
The abortion ban in South Dakota made it to the Indian newspapers today (you can read the story in the online edition here – the link doesn’t open in Safari for some reason. works fine on Firefox).
I certainly didn’t expect to write about abortion again today. But T.J. had asked me some questions on abortion-related issues in India which I had not touched on in my previous post.
Here are the questions…
Before I start with the answers, a Disclaimer 😉
All the views expressed here are my own. I don’t make any claims that these are the views of the majority of Indians. For those of you who don’t know much about the multiethnic, multiracial, multicultural, multireligious, multilingual smorgasbord that is modern India it maybe helpful if you read about the Demographics of India on Wikipedia.
I’ll start with the easy one. Yes I am religious, but not very particularly so. I am a Hindu, but not a very serious practitioner of Hinduism. In any case, most Hindus would argue that you can’t practice Hinduism in any systematic way. Hinduism’s stance on abortion is definitely pro-life. I confess I Googled to get the info 🙂 The best article that I found on the Hindu view of abortion was at the BBC website.
The question about ‘family unit’ and the ‘role’ of children in society are difficult. (I’ll confine myself to commenting on ‘children’ without any mention of their sex. Any mention of male v. female children would definitely open up a larger can of worms).
The answers would depend on factors such as socioeconomic status, culture and religion (again). But I think this would be the same for any society, Indian or Western. To generalize, a large segment of Indians (regardless of religion) live in ‘joint’ or ‘extended’ families, especially in the rural areas. Most of them would consider children to be ‘precious’. (Although a male child would be ‘more precious’ in most instances). But there are circumstances where an additional child (or more accurately a new – usually unplanned – pregnancy) would be considered a burden, especially in the lower socioeconomic strata.
That brings me to the next question. About our citizens view of abortion. Specifically – Do they think it is ‘okay’?
After 35 years of legal ‘abortion on-demand in India’ (thank you Dr. Flea) I think the answer is definitely yes. Most Indians think that abortion is ‘okay’. There are people who are anti-abortion (or pro-life in US terms) basically because of their religious beliefs – Catholics, Buddhists, Jains, Orthodox Hindus, etc….
What about Doctors?
Well, Doctors in India have been living in the same sociocultural environment for the past 35 years. So the answer would be that most Doctors in India have accepted ‘abortion on-demand’ as a way of life. I personally know of many obstetricians (especially those dealing with treatment of infertility) who refuse to perform abortions. I am sure there are a large number of such Doctors in India. But there are is a larger group of Doctors for whom an abortion is just another medical procedure – no ethical or moral strings attached.
Abortions can be legally performed in India by any registered medical practitioner in a legally licensed centre. The doctor need not be a specialist (ie, an ObGyn). There is a reason for this kind of an unregulated, ‘free-for-all’ kind of practice. The Government wants to reduce the incidence of illegal abortions – those done at unlicensed centres by untrained persons.
Why do people get illegal abortions performed in such a permissive legal environment? That brings me to the last and most difficult question: ‘is abortion viewed as a form of birth control’. My answer is yes. I will reiterate that the Government’s official line differs. I am sure many of my colleagues will agree with my view.
As a radiologist I have scanned many live and healthy-looking first & early second trimester foetuses that I knew where destined to die. I used to be disturbed… but I guess I’m no longer affected by it. These days, if I do think about it, I console myself with the thought that I am not the one doing the
dirty deed. I know that sounds like escapism … but that’s how it stands….
There’s no definite conclusion to this post….
I don’t think there ever will be a definite conclusion to this issue…