Integrated Master of Science, Class of 2026
Mana Shah is a member of the Literary Club at Ahmedabad University and is part of this year's team that won the prestigious MG Trophy for inter-university debate. She has also received the Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship, Ahmedabad University’s highest academic scholarship.
How is patriarchy weighing down on women's rights to bodily autonomy?
The overturning of Roe v/s Wade was a huge setback to the rights of birthing people. While the ideal focus should have been on increasing safe abortions and lessening the stigma around the issue, we are right back to where we started. With no proper universal healthcare access provided to all and the increase in the incidents of violence surrounding children, the debate about banning abortions to 'protect' life seems to be a little hypocritical. Many have argued that the foetus should also be considered an individual with the right to be constitutionally protected. In this case, the question arises: Doesn't the person giving birth have the right to be in complete control of their lives and rights? What happens to their constitutional protection?
When a person dies, their organs can be donated only if they have provided written consent. It is somewhat ironic that a corpse has more rights than a living person when deciding what happens to its body. All surveys and reports indicate that abortion is a medical procedure conducted on a foetus not even fully developed to be called 'living'. These findings point us to the influence of patriarchy on such decisions, about having control over others' life decisions. Pregnancy isn't a fairytale for everyone, and it's time for us to ask ourselves that as a result of enforcing abortion laws that do not support birthing people, who are we really benefiting?
What aspects of the Roe v/s Wade debate concern you the most as a student?
This decision was just a reflection of how little we have progressed over time. One moment, people are saying how women now have more rights than before, and the very next moment, we see them comfortably supporting the judiciary bodies curbing fundamental rights. The overturning of Roe v/s Wade will have lasting effects on the lives of many. Birthing people living in states where abortion is banned will have to travel to places where it isn't. Still, the reality is that, more often than not, people cannot afford the expenses of travel and abortion and end up continuing their pregnancy. A Working Paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) titled 'The economic consequences of being denied an abortion', states that people denied abortion show decreased productivity due to reasons like lack of health insurance, inability to take time off from low-wage jobs and attend the clinic for regular check-ups, and so on.
I am also most concerned by why we have no discussions about the hardships of transgender people who can also give birth? The constitutional protection of this marginalised section seems to have been completely forgotten. Also, while India may have legalised abortions, it is shocking to see that the leading cause of maternal deaths in India is unsafe abortions.