abortion rights


With growing discourse in the country about various issues, ‘centrists’ have often come under fire, for choosing to take not so extreme positions on a certain matter. Is the anger justified?

A few days back, I opened Twitter to see a tweet from a very close friend which said: “I hate centrists lmao they’re just closeted sanghis.” I thought to myself that this opinion must be coming from a negative personal experience, except the replies to the tweet were more or less similar, and over the next few days, I came across many such expressions from different people. Naturally, as someone who believes he is a centrist, I was taken aback.

No, I wasn’t a sanghi (a term used to refer to people who belong to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or more casually thrown around to refer to people who support the BJP). However, the political scenario of the country has changed so drastically of late that you’re either a ‘bhakt’ or a ‘commie’, a polarisation that is incredibly problematic and has essentially drowned out centrist voices-people who agree (or disagree) with the right and the left equally.

This trivialisation of the centre in today’s discourse is something that needs to be addressed, especially considering how it has been crucial to India’s existence (till 2014) and how it is the need of the hour at the moment. In India, there is an increasing need for a strong political centre (the Congress, for all its claims of being centrist, is simply not a political alternative at the moment) because of the very simple reason that centrism is the most important quality of India’s politics.

Centrism aims at ensuring harmony in India’s diversity instead of making its contradictions prominent, it provides a broader space for dissent and ensures the welfare of the people in every sense. In other words, centrism aims to fix exactly those problems that are visible in the country today-pitting of our differences against each other and a rampant curbing of any and all forms of dissent.

But how can we not take extreme sides in a nation where politics has already been made into a binary? The answer to that is that it might not be a left vs right battle as it’s made to look like. At the end of the day, an average Hindu is not a bigot as the left would like you to believe, and the average Muslim is not someone looking to establish their own state, as the right would want you to believe. They’re common people who want to get by in their daily lives.

This is a concept called the ‘Exhausted Majority’ that The Hidden Tribes report talks about too. It is a term used to describe how people eventually tire of a long period of polarisation. India has seen a battle between extremes for far too long, and eventually, people will demand a moderate government.

That is one major reason behind the Aam Aadmi Party’s recent success in Delhi because they’ve chosen to focus on core issues that affect the Aam Aadmi (common man) like electricity, water supply, education instead of polarisation, which the BJP and Congress have chosen to do.

But if the right is clearly so bad, then why don’t we counter right-wing extremism with the left-wing? The answer to that is simple, extremes, in general, are bad. the left’s proven to be ineffective far too many times and has been losing support in India too, with Kerala being the only state where the Communist Party of India remains in power. More importantly, the Left does not appeal to the common Indian man, who wants poverty alleviation but also development, something the left cannot provide.

The answer to this country’s problems lies in a moderate way of politics, as non-appealing as it may sound to the intellectuals of today. There is a need to look beyond one’s privileged position and explore the ground realities in order to realise the same.

Picture Credits: Amatopia

Khush Vardhan Dembla

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Ireland on Friday, 25th May, repealed the eighth constitutional amendment with a landslide two-thirds majority vote, the amendment, since 1983 recognised the rights of both mother and foetus in the same wavelength.
The historic decision came in the heels of a vigorous campaign by Together for Yes, an abortion rights campaign group that were supported by various political parties such as Sinn Fein and left-wing organisations. This campaign gained traction after the tragic death of an Indian-origin nurse Savita Halappanavar in 2012 when she was denied an abortion.

The Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar remarked in a public statement that the referendum was the “culmination of a quiet revolution in Ireland.” Simon Harris, the Health Minister addressing the public said, “there is an awful lot of people, particularly a lot of women breathing a sigh of relief today that a stigma has been lifted in this country.” while Mary Lou McDonald, the leader of Sinn Fein hailed the step towards “ a more open, tolerant Ireland”. What was remarkable was that the voting on Friday saw thousands of people returning to the country to cast their votes, an extraordinary display of combined political action. The referendum would now lead to a repeal of the eighth amendment as well as pushing for legislation of legalising abortion upto 12 weeks of pregnancy and setting up of abortion clinics.


The History

For decades, since 1987, Ireland’s story of abortion has been a matter of both national and international concern. In 2013, abortion was allowed for the first time in specific cases: when the mother is in danger of suicide or faces health risk due to pregnancy. Yet, it did not allow for abortions in cases of rape, foetal abnormalities, or incest. In 2016, the Citizen’s Assembly, a deliberative body set up to draw up reports on various issues like abortion for the consideration of the Parliament, started a series of meetings where voting on abortion took place. The results were very similar to the recent referendum, wherein the majority voted in favour of repeal of the abortion laws.

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Image Credits: Irish Examiner


Across the Irish Sea

According to reports, 170,000 women have travelled abroad for abortion, a number which pro-choice activists say reflects how the country is denying the presence of a social reality. Their destination would mostly be nearby England where abortion is legal in most cases. Moreover women of lower income households are restricted from access to such journeys, and hence from safe abortions.

The only place in Britain where abortion laws are as highly restrictive is Northern Ireland where women have no access to free abortions unlike the rest of Britain. Northern Ireland is also the only part of United Kingdom (UK) to still consider same-sex marriage illegal. The recent referendum pushes such issues of the region into the international limelight with pro-choice activists already clamouring for greater change.


Decline in Religious Conservatism

The landslide majority at the referendum as well opinion polls over the years have revealed how Ireland has changed from being one of the most conservative Catholic European nations. This has accompanied the recent child-sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Irish Catholic churches.

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Image Credits: The Irish Times


Abortion Laws Around the World

India permits abortions till 20 weeks of pregnancy (24 weeks in cases of rapes) when there is a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or the possibility of mental or physical abnormalities arising in the offspring. Yet, it is only in 60 countries in the world that women have access to safe abortions. Most countries in Europe like Malta, Poland, San Marino, Andorra, El Salvador, Nicaragua have highly restrictive abortion laws. Some of them prohibit abortion in all cases even when there is a risk to the lives of women. Most of these nations have a Christian majority population. In the United States of America too, the presence of a federal system means that abortion laws are not uniformly implemented. Trigger laws render the access to safe abortions almost impractical.


Pro-choice or Pro-life

The entire debate regarding pro-choice and pro-life has centred around religious conservatism as well as a concern for the health of women who undergo abortion. However, the rights of foetuses cannot be seen to be independent of that of the mothers as most abortions take place in the first trimester, when the baby cannot exist independent of the mother’s body. Most abortions also require very simple procedures like ingesting pills and do not pose any serious threat to the lives of the mothers. Moreover, in cases of rape or crisis pregnancies, it seems illogical to condemn a woman to pregnancy, especially in cases of minors. States which do so, operate on a slippery slope and might soon initiate more draconian measures. Most importantly, with waves of feminism taking over modern discourse, it becomes important to remember that a woman’s body autonomy should be preserved at all costs, perhaps even at the sake of the unborn child.
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Image Credits:  The Irish Times


Feature Image Credits: 4Conservative.com

Sara Sohail

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