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Abortion Law Reform: LALIT ’s position

18.05.2012


The LALIT Party hopes that the National Assembly votes the Amendments to the Criminal Code that will put an end to the blanket criminalisation of all termination of pregnancies that the 1838 law prescribes. We call on all members of the National Assembly to vote in favour of these amendments, although we do not believe that they are what we would consider ideal for this day and age. We would like to see a legal framework that effectively eliminates all criminalisation of women who see no other option than the termination of a pregnancy that they find unbearable.

In an ideal world, there would be no need for terminations of pregnancies, no unwanted pregnancies, no medical threat to the life of women who wish to have babies.

In an ideal world, there would be no rape (marital or otherwise), no incest, no macho men who can only prove their manhood by forcing repeated pregnancies on their partners, no sexual blackmail at the worksite, no accidental failure of contraception.

In an ideal modern world, all women would have easy access to reliable contraception, their partners would feel equal responsibility for planning the family. There would be no social ostracisation of young unmarried women, divorced women, widows, who join the public queue at the Family Planning Clinic. There would be no running campaign against reliable contraception, on the grounds that they are “un-natural”. There would not be religious dogmas that condemn countless people all over the world to sexually transmitted diseases (speci ally AIDS), on the grounds that the contraceptive condom is somehow against the laws of nature.

Finally , in an ideal world, women would be considered as whole persons with equal rights, not created as an after-thought from part of a man’s rib, so to speak, for the purpose of reproduction.

But we do not live in an ideal world. In LALIT , we are struggling towards that ideal world.

In the meantime we do not consider that women should pay with their lives, health, or freedom for social dysfunctions for which they are not responsible, or have no control over. Back-street abortions make women suffer just that, and all those who resist the decriminalisation of termination of pregnancy are in fact imposing on all women the burden for all these dysfunctions, and this is wrong. The blanket criminalisation of abortion under the 1838 law exposes all women to unnecessary stress, even those whose periods are a few days late, who may have forgotten one or two of their contraceptive pills, or even those who have suffered an unprovoked spontaneous abortion and are landed with a dead foetus. In a class society, this burden is unequally born by women who cannot afford to fly to nearby countries where termination of pregnancy is freely available, at a cost.

For all the above reasons, in LALIT , we believe that the time is past when we continue debating on how many angels can fit on the point of a needle. The time is past for debates aiming to convince the same social forces who resisted the campaign for contraception in the 50’s and 60’s, who resisted voluntary sterilisation, who condemn any sexual orientation outside of their conformity.

The time has come for women to benefit from the advances of medical science, for women to stop being trapped in the limiting role of biological reproducers, for women to no longer pay with their lives, health, or freedom, for trying to deal with an unwanted and unbearable pregnancy.

The Amendments to the Criminal Code that will be up for a vote on Tuesday 22 May, 2012, represents a first step in that direction.

Ram Seegobin,
For LALIT .
16 May 2012