Abortion in Pakistan is not a go-to option. This is primarily because of the belief that it is forbidden. However, many parents cannot either afford to have a child or just do not want one and in such situations, it makes one wonder if it’s better to choose abortion than bring a child in a family where the child’s quality of life will be extremely poor.
Farah from Lahore decided to get an abortion when she found out that she was pregnant
“I got married in the first year of university. Shaheer, my husband, had a job while I had classes to attend. We both had no plans of having a child in the next five years. It was because we were both very young and just adjusting to having someone around all day. Moving in with someone is an experience so overwhelming that having a child right away can be difficult to manage,” shared Farah.
“My period was late and I thought it was just a routine matter. I waited for a week and then another week, before finally taking the test. The two lines that appeared, confirming my pregnancy, stopped my heart right in its track. While many would jump at the sight of them, I was petrified. I did not want a kid at that point in life, I was not ready,” she sighed.
“I was scared to tell my husband. What if he wants to keep the baby?”
“I talked to him when he came back home. My heart sank waiting for his response. He looked at me and told me that he does not want the child either. However we were clueless as to what to do. We were aware that bringing up abortion to a doctor here is the most difficult task in the world. They will judge, they will interfere and they will push us to take a certain decision.”
“Shaheer called one of his friends. He suggested that I take an emergency contraceptive pill that introduces contractions and ends the pregnancy but the pill is not readily available at pharmacies in Pakistan because its use is prohibited under law. I got the pills from the friend and took two,” shared Farah.
“The pains kicked within an hour. It was one of the most difficult nights of my life. The pain was just intolerable, my entire body was protesting the loss.”
“I asked myself whether or not I felt the connection with the embryo as a mother. But I did not. I was in pain and I wanted it to be over. At that moment, I realized that you can only become a mother when you are ready for it. A surprise pregnancy should never result in someone becoming a mother,” Farah explained.
“The pharmacist had told us that we should wait a couple of days before getting an ultrasound done to see whether or not the pregnancy had cleared. But I knew that it had not. From whatever I had read online, I was supposed to bleed heavily due to the miscarriage but I had not. I only bled for a while.”
“So we had to plan ahead. Whom do we go to get the abortion finalized? We tried a doctor at a private hospital. She was adamant that we keep the child because “she” believed that it was the right thing to do.”
“Finally we tumbled upon someone who told us that a local clinic in Lahore was carrying out the procedure at low cost. 10,000 rupees for an abortion seemed manageable. But there was risk involved. These women carrying out the procedure used local anesthesia. This meant that I would have to witness the entire thing… but then I had to do it, regardless, so I did.”
Farah went on to explain how the experience still haunts her and not because she regrets getting the procedure done, but because of the ordeal she had to go through for a decision that she had chosen for her own well-being.
At the Family Planning Summit 2020 (FP2020), Pakistan pledged to play its part in making contraceptives available to seven million women in the country
However only 35.4 percent of couples in Pakistan use contraceptives. This, in comparison to Iran, is a very low number where 80 percent of couples use contraceptives. Despite being a conservative country like us, the government of Iran managed to push for the use of contraceptives.
Pakistan, however, failed to do so and that results in unnecessary pregnancies and various reactions stem out of it. Either the couples chooses to have the baby, drop off the baby somewhere after he’s born, commit suicide because of lack of means to provide for the child or just simply resort to risky abortion procedures due to the service not being available at public and private hospitals.
Family planning is also a concept alien to majority of the couples in Pakistan
Since pregnancies are not spaced out, this leaves the woman anaemic. This not only effects the health of the next child but can also result in the death of the mother later on due to pregnancy related complications. One of the reasons why family planning information does not reach parents is also because there are only 19,000 public health centers and 3000 population centers for a total population of 200 million people.
How is that effecting the population? Well 39 women die everyday due to pregnancy related issues and that does not make it to the news at all.
Cover image via: popsci.com