By: Fawad Hasan
KARACHI: When Sumaira* came to know about the abnormality of the child she was carrying in her cradle, she immediately opted for abortion despite the fact that the baby was now 7 months old. “I couldn’t bear to see my only child lagging behind other children all due to his abnormality. It would have been a test for me and for the child too. I opted for the easy way out; no matter he was my only hope after waiting for quite a number of years for my pregnancy,” said Sumaira.
Interestingly, the choice to get a pregnancy aborted is not enjoyed by every segment of our society. A legion of complications, a spree of questions, and stout denials face the person who wants to have an abortion since it is looked down upon and is a punishable crime in Pakistan.
“The very first question they would ask is; where is the husband?” said a lady who has lately gone through the tough process of getting an abortion done. “They would even ask for the ‘Nikahnama’ to make sure that the child a lady is carrying inside her is not being born out of wedlock.”
Signature of the husband in case he is not around is a must before the head doctor, as revealed by the interview of a few women, approves the abortion. “Even if you have permission of the husband, in our country, what women usually get to hear from the hospital staff is that they can’t kill, murder the baby.” The doctors that refrain from abortion maintain that they fear lawsuit entailing the process, which can get the hospital in trouble.
Consequently, what happens then is abandoning of the baby or often infanticide, killing the baby a day or two after the birth.
Now talking of the gruesome consequences of this insane policing controlling abortion rights, in 2013, 591 dead bodies of babies were found, yet another 138 babies were abandoned by their parents, Edhi Foundation reveals. Can that be the result of moral policing vis-à-vis abortion?
Anwar Kazmi, the spokesman of Edhi Foundation and a veteran social activist, sees things differently. “If even a couple has had sex, whether legitimate or illegitimate, what’s the fault of the baby who gets born out of it?” he argues. “We have installed ‘Jhoolas’ at every Edhi Centre with a request by Bilquis Edhi inscribed on it to please leave the child in it instead of taking its life. But the data shows that people are more inclined towards murdering the baby.”
Killing (sic) the baby when it has not completely developed inside the mother’s womb is less sinister than killing it when the baby has come into this world, breathing and feeling the life. If a baby is born out of wedlock, its mother not getting the privilege of abortion, what then entails is indescribable in words. “We recover dead bodies of babies, either strangulated or their tiny neck tied with the noose, making the little creatures’ tongue slip out of their mouth. This shames humanity and reveals the despicable society we have become,” said Anwar Kazmi ruefully.
In order to get more information regarding the matter of abandoned babies, Daily Times contacted Chhipa Welfare Association as well, since the philanthropist organisation has been in the news on occasion for rescuing abandoned babies or discovering those who have lost their battle with life. Unfortunately, their representative said they do not maintain such data.