Abortion is Healthcare: Which role can we have in this fight for human rights?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Dr Kartikeya Ojha and Ms Shreya Nandan are Global advocates for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Sexual and reproductive health is the central component of the overall well-being of a person. The knowledge and skills required to make healthy decisions about sexual health are an integral part of a healthy society. Abortion is essential health care and human right. A person’s physical and emotional health is in danger, and their autonomy and agency are taken away when denied access to abortion services. It unjustly exposes them to various forms of violence and tyranny while denying them the freedom to live with dignity and on an equal footing with other people.

The denial of abortion services through the criminalization of abortion or obstacles and delays in access to legal services can, in some cases, constitute cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment that may amount to torture and result in arbitrary detention. Approximately 47,000 people die each year from 25 million unsafe abortions, most of which occur in underdeveloped nations and among members of underprivileged and marginalized socioeconomic groups.

Political actors, religious extremists, and their allies worldwide have been abusing their authority to deny individuals their constitutionally protected rights and freedom, and are driving this backlash, specifically against people who need abortions and medical professionals who perform abortions, by continuing to contest the universality of human rights. 

Abortion is a necessary medical procedure. Abortion services should be made available, accessible, affordable, acceptable, and of high quality, as well as devoid of stigma and prejudice. The dedication and conviction that all women should have complete access to and autonomy over the full range of their sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe abortion services, should be reaffirmed by medical students. They should exercise leadership in their communities to stop restrictions on reproductive health and promote and fight for women’s full access to and autonomy over their right to obtain reproductive health care, including abortion services. 

The goal of an abortion is to assist women, but assistance is becoming elusive. The stigma surrounding abortions, a lack of training, and discomfort with the process hinder many doctors from carrying abortions. It may be unpleasant to acknowledge, but women will always need abortions, medical students should be educated and trained in abortions. It is not the sole responsibility of healthcare professionals to generate awareness about access to safe abortion. General Public should develop and implement initiatives that offer clear, factual, and unbiased information about all issues relating to their bodies, sexuality, and reproductive health including abortion to lessen the stigma associated with it.

The role that government can play in this scenario includes recognising steps to identify abortion as a core reproductive right for the citizens, repulsion of policies and laws that criminalize abortion and initiating various measures to ensure the removal of the multiple barriers preventing access to abortion for everyone! The outreach of safe practices of abortion can be increased by taking appropriate measures and formulating policies and plans to make those procedures accessible, available, and affordable for individuals of all age groups, regardless of their social status!

About the author

Dr Kartikeya Ojha and Ms Shreya Nandan are Global advocates for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Kartikeya, an incredible public speaker, currently working as a Medical Intern in Sikkim, is a voracious researcher, passionate about global health policies, and advocacy. He aspires to become a compassionate Cardiothoracic-surgeon in the future. Shreya, a 4th-year medical student in Sikkim, aspires to be a general surgeon someday. She is passionate about using her skills and education for the benefit of humanity. She hopes to contribute to making the world a better place with her dexterities and knowledge someday.

Comments

  1. kartikeya says:

    Thank youuuu

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