Once, I had gone to a family planning clinic with a 20 year old girl. She was short and thin, but if you look at her she seemed to be about 13-15 years old. The way she looked did not match one’s understanding of a 20 year old’s body image. You’re probably thinking why this description of the girl’s body is important here. It is essential because it proves the kind of body image we associate to a person’s age. When we went to the receptionist and told her that the girl had come to meet the doctor to talk about her abortion, the receptionist’s eyes popped out and she loudly screamed, “This girl is pregnant!”.
Everyone sitting there started staring at us as if we were criminals. Soon, the receptionist calmed down and made a slip for the girl. We had to wait for twenty minutes before we got a chance to see the doctor, and that wait seemed like it would never end. She was sitting with her head down, staring into the ground, while everybody around us constantly gazed at us with curiosity in their eyes, wanting to know what had happened. You’re probably thinking that I was assuming all this, but no I wasn’t. I could hear people around us whispering among themselves and pointing at the girl who I had accompanied, with their questioning eyes.
When her turn finally came to meet the counsellor, she went to meet the counsellor alone. After her meeting, she came out in tears. These tears were not of relief but of the fear that lurks around her. She came up to me and said,”I am scared of abortion.”
She asked me what abortion is and told me that the counsellor had advised her to get married to the boy if she chooses not to abort. The job of the counsellor was to educate her about abortion, not to stigmatize the concept. The context of her relationship needed to be understood and unnecessary solutions should not have been provided to her without her asking for it.
There should have been no question of giving advise on getting married to the boy or not as any of that is not supposed to be the business of the counsellor. The only thing that had to be done was to provide the right kind of information so that she could make an informed choice.This is what happens in the country so often. People are not aware of their sexual and reproductive rights and everything related to the concept of sexuality has been heavily stigmatized. This leads to young people feeling alone and scared. The girl told me that she is more afraid than when she came and does not want to get married to that guy.
After this, the first thing the clerk asked her before she met the doctor was if she had a baby. By using the word “baby”, it became more difficult for her to make her decision, as she felt more guilt attached to the word “baby”, as if she was going to kill a life. However, that is not true and the doctor should have corrected the clerk right there. It needs to be understood that these things have a lot of psychological implications.
The doctor saw her slip and asked for me to come inside as well. She asked me what I wanted to do of this pregnancy. I felt really weird when I was asked this question because who am I to choose for her? I told the doctor that I am nobody to decide as I am not the one who is pregnant. It is her pregnancy and that it is her choice whether to terminate it or not. I asked the girl what she wanted and she said that she did not want to have a baby.