On 8th July, the YP Foundation organized their second online session on “reimagining access to abortion: beyond a heteronormative and binary framework”. The session mainly focused on the MTP Amendment bill, 2020, from the perspective of the marginalized.
The session had 4 panelists. Dr Aqsa Sheikh, community medicine specialist teaching at Jamia Hamdard University, Shyam, independent volunteer for creative resistance, Kiran Deshmukh, member of the National Network of Sex Workers and Tejaswi Sevekari, Saheli Sangh. The moderator for the session was Vqueeram, researcher at Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR).
Dr Aqsa Sheikh, who is not only a medical doctor and a medical teacher but a proud transgender woman, highlighted that the MTP Bill has a very patriarchal approach. The person pregnant has absolutely no choice over their own body and instead have to get permissions and certifications from doctors and medical boards. She very aptly suggested that instead of certifications, focus should be given on counselling. Instead of gatekeeping, guidance should be provided. She also emphasized on the point that this bill has a very heteronormative and a cis-gendered approach. The bill only talks about women. To make it inclusive, she suggested that the bill should replace ‘women’ with ‘pregnant person’.
Moving on to the second panelist Shyam, a trans masculine person, with a lot of honest anger, pointed out how this bill was very triggering for him. He made a strong point of how some people, just to show their authority, have dared to write rules and regulations about our body parts.
Kiran Deshmukh, Maharashtra based sex worker, living with HIV for 22 years now, highlighted the reality of how sex workers are treated when they go to civil hospitals for abortions. They have to face a lot of discrimination. These hospitals either refuse the treatment or delay it to point that the legal limit to abort the child surpasses. After that they are left with no other option than buying medicines and use it without any guidelines. She stresses how she considers these discriminations by hospitals as an act of violence and suggest that we need to fight it together.
Coming to the last panelist, Tejaswi Sevekari said, with so much complications in getting permissions for the termination of pregnancy, there are chances that the number of unsafe abortions will get higher. She mentioned how this bill is just doctor centric and not community centric. Permission from doctors, permission from medical boards have complicated the procedure, rather than simplifying it.
After taking up questions from the participants, the session concluded with the moderator thanking all the panelists and the participants for joining in.