What option did she had?

Nisha Adhikari

Rita Thapa, 20, lies in the bed of Prasuti Griha Government Maternity Hospital. She was brought to the hospital in Kathmandu, because of the excessive bleeding after having an unsafe abortion illegally in a  clinic.

She was already a mother of two daughter at this early age. When she was pregnant for the third time, her relatives suggested her husband and mother in law to have a test to identify whether a third one is girl or boy.  After the checkup in one of the private clinic, they found out the third fetus growing in her belly is again a female.

A word “daughter” was enough for her husband and mother in law, so they decided to have abortion. Though Rita insisted not to have abortion, she was helpless in front of her family. At first, her mother in law prepared some homeopathic medicine to induce abortion. Rita continued these medicine for regular 3 days but it was found ineffective. She was already in the 5th month of her pregnancy.

  Though they did not know that they could obtain a safe and legal abortion in government- approved clinic but as per the recommendation of one of their neighbors, they went to the maternity hospital to have abortion but hospital turned them down saying it was illegal to abort a 5 month old fetus as well as unsafe. Again Rita argued with her husband and mother in law saying they have no any option left than to keep this pregnancy. But her mother in law was not ready to have another daughter in her home and she tried every possible way to abort it.

While walking through one of the busy streets of capital, they found a polyclinic where the chemist agreed for the abortion charging them double cost. The chemist said the procedure only takes 10 mins to perform but it actually took 30 mins and after this she had unbearable pain. When she got home, the bleeding did not stop. Because of the continuous bleeding, she lost the consciousness. Again she had to be taken to the Maternity hospital due to such complication.

Even though the sex selective abortion is illegal in Nepal, its rate is incredibly high. Many pregnant women like Rita are forced by societal pressures that demands son and are forced  to get admitted in the illegal settings to have abortion after the ultrasound reveal the sex of the fetus.

Despite the legalization of abortion in our country, lack of awareness, social stigma and lack of implementation of safe abortion policy have forced people to rely on the unsafe and illegal abortion. In order to earn money, private clinics are performing abortions illegally without the trained health professional and facilities leaving women vulnerable to many health complication.

According to the NDHS 2016, 52% of women are still unknown where they can access the safe abortion service. Out of 323,00 abortions performed in 2014, only 42% abortion were provided legally in government approved facilities and remaining 58 % by untrained or unapproved providers or induced by the pregnant women herself. This is why even now 7% of maternal deaths in Nepal are caused due to unsafe abortion.

Abortion can be done safely and is the right of the women.  It should be done within the legal barrier and the person providing or supporting the abortion should trained. But unsafe abortion must be prevented. For this, safe abortion care should be available and accessible everywhere; demand for the contraception should be satisfied. Along with this comprehensive sexuality education should be provided to all including young people. As social stigma is one of the major reason behind the unsafe abortion so it should be addressed flourishing the accurate knowledge and awareness among people.

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