Someone needs to take the negative PR off abortion's back!
As I was reading this post on "Abortion Doulas" I got to thinking about being pro-choice, abortion in general and about abortion in India in particular (as this is where I live). Out here, we tend to look at abortion as something shameful, disgusting, a thing to keep under wraps. No "good Indian" girl ever gets an abortion. If she does, people whisper about her in hushed tones for what she did was indeed disgusting. Interestingly, this is the attitude for abortion only for single women, unwed mothers etc. Within the sanctity of marriage, many women are forced to abort their unborn female fetuses. That isn't entirely looked down upon. In fact, aborting the girl child is seen as the only solution.
Most T.V ads and posters somehow play on the 'guilt factor' while marketing their product. Contraceptive pills, ads for abortion, ads that raise awareness for HIV/AIDS or venereal diseases always have an undercurrent of guilt. Especially if the ad is female oriented.
Even ad companies who make the contraceptive ads (supposedly in favor of female empowerment) show this bias. Take these two ad films for example:
1) This one was aired first. For those of you who aren't familiar with Hindi, the lady at the end of the video suggests to take the i-pill so that one may avoid an abortion. The ad seems to market the product smoothly enough. I'd like you to observe the expression on the young girl's face. Each second of this film asserts that aborting a child is WRONG. I ask, why is it so?
2) The second film is a little less negative. This lady advises her daughter on the phone to take the i-pill so as to avoid a pregnancy. What she also says is, "If you're pregnant, we'll have to go for an abortion". See here, the word abortion is used as a threat. If you don't take the i-pill, we'll have to abort the child. Now the daughter wouldn't want that, would she?
While ads for male contraceptives i.e. condoms are always erotic and sensual in nature. Somehow the Ad seems to be reassuring the man the using contraception isn't going to rob him of his masculinity. See this one for instance. Forget the White neighborhood or the fact that some men weren't Indian; just wait for the jackpot at the end of the commercial.
While Betty Friedan can cry herself hoarse chanting "Abortion is a woman's civil right", we will still continue to look at abortion as a sin.
"The right of woman to control her reproductive process must be established as a basic, inalienable civil right, not to be denied or abridged by the state. What right has any man to say to any woman-you must bear this child? What right has any state to say? This is a woman's right, not a technical question needing the sanction of the state, or to be debated in terms of technicalities-they are all irrelevant. This question can only be confronted in terms of the basic personhood and dignity of woman, which is violated forever if she does not have the right to control her own reproductive process. This is the only way that abortion is worth talking about; we're going to demand it and see what happens..." [Speech given at the First National Conference for Repeal of Abortion Laws, Chicago, January 1969, quoted in Friedan, It Changed My Life, p. 171.]1
In the light of today's grim realities of female feticides and girl child murders these words definitely mean squat to the Indian culture. I need to go find an oven to put my head in now.