Abortion Research Compendium – India

Living with reproductive contingencies: understanding abortion experiences in Guwahati
Kashyap Rwittambhara

Abortion is an idiosyncratic experience in the lifeworld of women. The struggle for abortion rights has been a contentious issue globally amid sundry political and socio-cultural challenges. The primary assumption of this study is that factors such as social location, power relations, and provider-seeker interfaces sculpt the reproductive lived experiences of women in Guwahati. It has further analysed and explored the abortion experiences of women with specific reference to abortion stigma, decision-making, and morality. Unwanted pregnancies attest to a decisive milieu of women’s inability to parlay and negotiate sexual autonomy or practice in India. Self- determination to have control over her own reproductive body is least recognised by a women’s family, society, by the country’s health providers, laws, and policy. Socio-cultural and familial contexts clubbed with her abortion experiences force every Indian woman to present the context of her unwanted pregnancy as a voice not only as a decision to discontinue her pregnancy but also as a way to express the daily struggles of her own self and her body. Women’s inability to access safe and stigma-free abortion services coupled with moral predicaments linked with their social relations severely constrain their reproductive autonomy. Therefore, this study voices the need for universal access to safe abortion and suggests that the provision of abortion should be free from moral and foetal personhood discourses. The law and its polity on abortion should recognise the historicity of gender discrimination in our Indian societies. Furthermore, this study reveals and illustrates the experienced abuse and torture that Indian women experience while seeking abortion in health institutions This study reiterates the need for a resilient and strong women-centric abortion policy and the provision of stigma-free and empathetic reproductive health care not just in Guwahati but across India.

Kashyap, Rwittambhara, Living with reproductive contingencies: understanding abortion experiences in Guwahati. A dissertation submitted- Centre for Community Organisation and Development Practice, Tata Institute of Social Sciences Guwahati Off-Campus, 2022

Unpublished Material / Research Study