Media Workshop on Safe Abortion, Every Woman’s Right

hough the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed in India in 1971, making abortion legal in our country, access to safe and legal abortions still remains a distant cry for most women. The maternal morbidity and mortality rate due to unsafe and illegal abortions is still quite high. There are multiple reasons for inaccessibility to safe and legal abortions ranging from social, economic, ethical to those based on downright discriminatory politics. There being a taboo on subjects such as abortion there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about it which only make matters worse. As if this was not enough the phenomenon of sex selective abortions and the law banning all abortions performed after a sex determination test only complicated matters further as it amounted to a lot of confusion about the legality of abortion.

All these issues needed to be addressed and the confusion and misinformation about abortion needed to be dispelled. What better medium could be found than the media which reaches out to millions of people daily? Besides if reporters and journalists could be convinced about the importance of writing about matters like abortion and if they were supplied accurate information they could change the face of reporting done on Reproductive Health of women. They could dispel the myths regarding abortion and provide valuable information about it to millions of people. The taboo on discussions and queries about abortion would eventually break as it reached the drawing rooms and dining tables of homes and became a topic for discussion at workplaces.

With this purpose in mind reporters from different states in India and some reporters from Delhi were invited to a two day workshop held on November 5-6, 2009 at the Global Arts Village on the Mehrauli Gurgaon Road, New Delhi.

About 15 outstation journalists and four from Delhi participated in the workshop. The sessions on gender perspective, technology of abortion, case studies by different resource persons and a film on abortion by CEHAT brought on animated discussions and active participation. If the articles that started appearing in various regional papers soon after the workshop are anything to go by, the workshop certainly seems to have made an impact.

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