Teenage Pregnancy, Induced Abortion, Penalty

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By M C Arun

The problem of teenage pregnancy has been increasing in recent times. There are certain underlying factors attributing to it. It can be explained in various ways, right from moral policing to structural maladjustment or a product of rapid social change. Adequate laws combined with social engineering or public opinion may help in solving this social issue in the long run. But, the immediate issues of teenage pregnancy should be dealt with more carefully along with a humane touch. We need to understand all the elements involved around such teenage behavior rather than humiliating the `girl`™ in public as `without character`™. A teenage girl who becomes pregnant (especially outside the marriage) faces various pressures from the family, society and culture. And again, there is the important factor of her own fears. In fact, she is a girl in need of serious psychological support. She should be treated in such a manner that she could cope with the pressures of society and humiliation. The problem may be aggravated if the `man`™ who impregnates her denies his responsibility. He should take his due responsibility while she is suffering. We should not blame her alone; rather we should understand her and her agonies.

With the advancement of medical sciences, there are many abortion pills which should be used orally or otherwise. But, the issue is not of medical abortion or surgical abortion. It is a question of choice. The decision whether to abort or is hers alone, not of her parents or family or for that matter of the family of the boy who impregnated her. The issues around the Abortion Rights are around the women`™s consent or willingness to deliver the child or to abort the foetus. The recent incident of forced abortion of girl from Thoubal which was in the news is indeed shocking. No reasonable person would accept that. She was denied her right of `choice`™ and she was deceived by the `man`™ who did not take his due responsibility. She was ill advised by a physician who forcibly aborted her first ever `child`™. Surprisingly, no organization or any sensible person came out to her rescue. The child was aborted leaving her in further confusion, humiliation and helplessness. Her suffering has begun while the boy is let free without any guilt and responsibility. Moreover she is only 17 years of age, meaning a minor.

The more interesting thing is that the clinic where she was forced to abort was not registered under the law of the State. The physician in the clinic did not advise her and did not ask of her choice. The lady doctor went far beyond all the existing ethics `“ both social and professional. Still no action is taken both by the society and the state (meaning Manipur government). No one has raised the issue of such an illegal and unethical act of the physician. Under all the available legal provisions and societal norms, these illegal practices and unethical actions of medical professionals should be penalized so that they should understand the humane aspects of life. The State should take up this case of Thoubal girl unilaterally and investigate the case thoroughly so that the involved physician can be booked.

Moreover, the Thoubal girl was a minor; the sexual act should be treated as statutory rape. The `rapist`™ should also be brought to the light so that a legal proceeding could be started. We should know one thing very carefully that abortion is not the end of teenage pregnancy; the teenage pregnancy should be treated in a wider framework. The teenage girl and her rights should be protected.

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