Abortion is definitely healthcare

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Shanzay Naveed, a medical student from Pakistan. She is 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.

Abortion is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. The discussion about abortion is one of the most intensive and debatable topics in the modern world. The supporters of the right to abortion adhering to a pro-choicer approach claim that a woman should have the right to independently make decisions concerning her body and the artificial termination of pregnancy.

If a woman decides to terminate her pregnancy, in most cases, she is likely to do it regardless of legal, social, or moral prohibitions. The data presented by the recent studies convincingly show that in the vast majority of cases, criminal abortions result in infertility and cause irreparable harm to a woman’s health.

Speaking of the psychological health of women in terms of the right to abortion, one should emphasize that no one should force a woman to bear an unwanted child or the one conceived as a result of violence. This is likely to aggravate her mental health, which can lead to the most deplorable consequences for both a woman and a child from depression to suicide. The recent study shows that among women who obtained an abortion, 95% reported one week later that having the procedure was the right decision for them. Even among those who had had a primarily negative emotional response, 84% felt that abortion was the correct choice; among those who expressed any regret about the abortion, 89% felt that abortion was the right decision.

Despite the prevalent attitudes that abortion enables women to pursue life’s opportunities, only a couple of studies have investigated whether an abortion enables one to achieve specific milestones, and such studies usually focus on educational achievements.  The study found that compared to young women who had unintended pregnancies and carried to term and young women who did not have unintended pregnancies, young women who obtained abortions were more likely to achieve educational milestones. However, there were no differences found in achievement of economic or relationship milestones. The study also found that family, social, and educational characteristics were more likely to explain subsequent life outcomes than whether the woman had an abortion.

It is clear that negative attitudes toward abortion persist both inside and outside of healthcare systems, and need to be challenged in order to destigmatize those accessing and providing services. Health professionals can play a key role in normalizing abortion, through the ways in which they frame their work and present abortion to women they treat, and others more widely. Analysis suggests a key way to achieve this is by presenting abortion as part of normal, routine sexual and reproductive healthcare, but that appropriate support and structural change are essential for normalization to become embedded.

Method can involve following steps

• Encountering resistance to abortion from SRH and gynaecology colleagues.
• Contending with prevailing negative sociocultural abortion narratives.
• Enacting overt positivity around abortion provision.
• Presenting abortion as part of routine healthcare.


About the author

Ms. Shanzay Naveed, a medical student from Pakistan.

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