Better access to health care which is affordable should be provided by the government, especially for women in the rural areas," said Holy Spirit Sister Julie George, told AsiaNews. She is the director of Pune based Streevani ("the voice of women") that stands for the liberated and empowered woman in the modern world, involved in the abortion debate in India.
The theme has returned to world attention following the first
moves of the new US President Donald Trump, who has blocked federal
funding to international NGOs who practice abortions.
Illegal abortions, reports the nun, "are among the main risk factors for
women, who often die young. The lack of information and the use of easy
ways such as taking pills or other home remedies lead to serious
complications. The government should provide better access to care,
particularly for women living in rural areas. "
Sister Talisha Nadukudiyil, executive secretary of Catholic Bishops
Conference of India (CBCI) Council for Women asks “when we, the
Catholics, are fighting against abortion itself how can we speak
anything on 'unsafe abortion'". "I would stress on what Pope Francis
said in his Encyclical Laudato Si, 'If personal and social sensitivity
towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of
acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away' ( #120)."
"How can one who ignores the silent cry of the fetus of one's own
blood listen to the cry of the fellow beings? In such a situation can we
expect any decrease in the crimes against the vulnerable?" she asked.
According to recent data, in India illegal abortions cause the death
of 10 women a day. Every year the number of abortions is around seven
million - of which about 40 thousand in the single state of Rajasthan -
in large part be attributed to selective abortions [related to the sex
of the child, in particular girls - ed].
CI + Development Foundation studies report that abortion causes a third
of deaths among mothers. In more than 8% of the country women do not
know that abortion is allowed until the 20th week of pregnancy and in
the presence of particular conditions. This causes proliferation of
facilities offering clandestine solutions. Furthermore, the issue is
also a social problem, given that over 90% of all abortions are due to
medical or socio-economic reasons.
Dr Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, a Catholic theologian and medical scientist,
said, "Unsafe abortions are obviously a pressing concern in India
despite our liberal laws. However the tendency to see access to safe
abortion as the primary solution to the problem is myopic. While access
to safe abortions and creating awareness about available facilities is a
must, it is well to remember that abortions even under the best of
conditions carry the risk of medical complications, and may lead to loss
of productivity and psychological damage."
"I believe prevention is better than cure. We need to improve the
status of the girl child to reduce abortions due to sex selections, and
educate women in safe sex to prevent unintended pregnancies with their
associated social stigma and financial burden that push women to
abortion. For the Catholic Church it is a toss between a moral teaching
that frowns on sex that is closed to procreation and the risk of an
unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Most women would choose to be safe
rather than sorry; after all, it is their bodies and lives on the line."
Another Catholic theologian based in Mumbai, Virginia Saldanha,
former executive secretary of Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences'
Women's Desk, said, "The word 'unsafe' says it all. Who goes for unsafe
abortions? Those who cannot access safe abortions, i.e. the poor and
vulnerable sections of people, among vulnerable sections will be young
women who have been raped, or who have experimented with sex and got
pregnant unwittingly. These are the persons at risk, the very persons
who need protection from the government or voluntary healthcare
agencies. Please note I am not supporting abortions, but young people
getting pregnant do tend to go for unsafe abortions."