Awareness: The Only Approach to Abort Stigma. By Suweeta Xiao Wei
When the removal of a foetus can save the life of an adult, therefore avoiding mishaps of sacrificing two lives at a time, termination of pregnancies should gain its approval.
In Malaysia, abortion is permissible when a pregnancy may pose physical or mental danger to a pregnant woman. When safe abortion is not available, desperate pregnant women tend not to keep their foetus till delivery but to head for unsafe abortion.
Global data indicates that 13% of maternal deaths were caused by unsafe abortions and topping the list was haemorrhage (severe bleeding), which was 25%. This clearly shows the impact of having an unsafe abortion.
Imagine handing over a woman’s fate to another person who has no medical qualifications, no proper tools, not even a proper clinic, but claims to be “experienced” in terminating pregnancies. That would be more cruel to both mother and foetus in comparison to a safe abortion.
Stigma in society is the reason for these helpless women to resolve to unsafe abortion.
When having physical relationship is taboo, sexuality education will automatically be hindered. On the other hand, an open-minded society would lead to a more formal education system and abortion would be permissible in certain circumstances.
Unfortunately, the Malaysian education system is lacking the elements of CSE (Comprehensive Sexuality Education). CSE is extremely essential due to the fact that age of consent in Malaysia is 16 years old. This explains why teenagers are still not well equipped with knowledge about sexual relationships upon reaching the minimum age to consent to their participation in them. This contributes to unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions as well as heart-breaking cases of baby dumping.
According to the Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia (RRAAM), among 120 doctors and nurses asked about the law pertaining to abortion in Malaysia, only 57% correctly knew it. This shocking result indicates that medical personnel may be debating on whether a pregnant woman should carry on her pregnancy based on false perceptions. All decisions made are at the expense of the woman.
Awareness is the only approach to abort the stigma. Therefore, abortion ought to not only remain legal in Malaysia, but the knowledge of abortion and sexuality education should also be implanted in the education system to protect the rights of pregnant women.
The rights of pregnant women should not be ignored when making decisions, especially when their safety is threatened. Their final choice should be respected after consultation with a professional doctor.
This letter was written by our Youth Champion SUWEETA XIAO WEI from Malaysia in response to the article- Abortion is definitely not the way to solve the problem.