Choosing whether or not to bring a child into this world is no doubt one of the toughest decisions for a woman to make. A woman or a couple might consider how financially stable they are to raise a child, how emotionally and mentally prepared they are to take on late nights and making the child’s well-being their topmost priority. Of course, there are plenty more reasons to be considered and they differ from woman to woman; some might never want to have a child or there might be medical complications in their pregnancy requiring them to terminate the fetus. Under all circumstances, there is a wave of grief that is likely to hit the woman even if the choice is hers.
The stigma that comes with having an abortion, so it is time to openly discuss abortion with an open mind with factual information to back the procedure. In an effort to raise awareness on the Medical Termination of pregnancy (abortion) and to enlighten you about your rights, safety precautions and the emotional and mental impact of making this choice, we decided to host a Girl Tribe Sharing Circle around it. We invited Dr Devika Chopra, OB-Gyn, Tanusree Mustafi, Rehabilitation & Counseling Psychologist at The Mood Space hosted by Dr Raashi Khatri Panjabi, MD Pain Management, to share their knowledge and experience on abortion and its emotional impact. Here is what these women had to say.
What Is Medical Termination & What Constitutes A Safe Abortion By Dr Devika Chopra
Termination of pregnancy is the act of expelling or removing the fetus from a woman's body. This particular procedure can be done medically or surgically and the legally allowed time frame for this is up to 20 weeks, up to 7 weeks tablets may be prescribed. However, you're likely to find some doctors who may prescribe this to you up to 9 weeks as well because there is a grey area until 63 days. And anything after 9 to 10 weeks a surgical procedure is required.
I decided to talk about this subject because abortions are looked down upon, whether the woman is unmarried or married and whatever her reasons are, I feel this is a hard topic to discuss and fathom given that she is in fact carrying the child inside of her.
A safe abortion is one that is done in a recognised centre and by a trained doctor during the stipulated time period of 20 weeks. After 20 weeks, if a woman is medically not able to carry the child to term and it is medically recommended that termination is the safest way forward then one needs a court order to go ahead with the medical termination
The Emotional Impact Of Abortion By Tanusree Mustafi
More than the act of termination it is the environment that surrounds the woman or what are the conditions under which the termination has taken place? All of these play a major role. Since the decision is influenced by so many factors, let's talk about why women experience a deep emotional impact. For one, the detection of pregnancy is not immediate and by that time the window or the time frame to execute the process is shortened. This means that the woman has to react and respond alone without a strong support system and in a hastened state thus creating a steady stream of pressure.
Abortion is a decision that should be between the woman and her doctor. But the truth is that the woman's family members, the spouses, the neighbours and the parents all seem to get involved.
Under such intense circumstances, there is bound to be an emotional impact but one would attribute that to the lack of a support system rather than the act of termination. It's like going through trauma after trauma thus becoming a chronic traumatic experience. So if one happens to have access to get professional mental health aid then the impact can be lessened with the help of sufficient preparation.
Abortion: The Experience As Told By Dr Raashi Khatri Panjabi
Dr Raashi Khatri Panjabi shares her personal experience of having to abort her child for medical reasons. She was dealing with an ectopic pregnancy as the fetus was growing on her ovaries and not her womb.
It came down to me and this baby that I so so desperately wanted to have. I found out on Monday and was being wheeled into an ER on Thursday. I felt choiceless in the matter. The loss is extremely real because you know you're pregnant and then suddenly you have to tear yourself away from this dream.
Even if one has a great support system, mental health aid or access to therapy, it is likely that they will still struggle on the inside. One might call it stigma because there is a certain amount of guilt on losing a child this way, women feel like their bodies aren't able to do the one thing it was originally designed to do and that is a really devastating emotion to tackle.
Please know that you are not alone, you have to work through it yourself and the support will come when you decide to empower yourself by talking about the experience openly.
Important FAQ's on Abortion Answered By OB-GYN Dr Devika Chopra:
a) Can an abortion affect one's ability to have children in the future?
If you opt for over the counter pills or take drastic measures without checking in without a certified doctor, chances are you might have an unsafe medical termination that will in all likelihood increase your infertility rate.
b) If you're a minor, do you need parental consent to have an abortion?
Any sexual activity before the age of 18 is considered statutory rape and gynaecologists by law are required to inform the police if they are approached by those under 18 for a medical termination. Hence, those below 18 require aid from a legal guardian in the event of an abortion.
c) How soon after undergoing an abortion can you start your birth control pills?
You can begin your birth control pills 10-15 days after your medical termination. However, it is essential for you to get an okay from your gynaecologist or get a sonography before you begin this process. Your doctor needs to confirm that all contents of the fetus have been expelled from the mother's body
d) Can one use a menstrual cup or tampon after having an abortion?
This depends on the period of gestation. The lesser the time frame the bleeding is likely to be lesser. However, absorbent pads are recommended as the chances of fetus tissue leaving the body can create a high risk of infection at this time. The bleeding can continue for a period of 7-10 days and in some cases can be severe as well.
e) How soon can one have sex after having an abortion?
Ovulation can take place as quickly as two weeks after one's abortion so it's better to opt for protected sex after 2 weeks of healing time.
f) How soon can one start trying to conceive again after having an abortion?
If you've had to medically terminate your pregnancy because there were some abnormalities with the birthing process it would be better for you to give yourself some time to make investigations. So the best thing to do is wait for about 3-4 months before you can begin trying again.
What are your thoughts on women having an abortion? Let us know in the comments below.