Media Sensitization on Safe Abortion

Youth Champion Advocacy Network Nepal, YOUTHCANN had received a small grant from Asia Safe Abortion Partnership to organize various advocacy session on safe abortion to different groups like young people, service providers and media people. On the occasion of September 28, Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, YOUTHCANN organized half day sensitization program on safe abortion to media persons from print and radio.

Media is one of the most powerful instruments of communication. It plays a very constructive role in today’s world. As we know media plays an important role in increasing of public awareness and collect the views, information and attitudes toward certain issues. It presents the real stage of society. Without the media, people would be isolated, not only from the rest of the world, but also for the total formation of creditable world.

The media has got a vital role in molding positive perspective on abortion among people and spread positive message in the society to #BustTheMyths. But there is a myths on media

Myths: Most Media People Object the Abortion.

Facts: Media People are Often leading Advocates for Safe & Legal Abortion

Resource person Ms. Madhabi Bajracharya from Ipas shared that Ipas Nepal also closely works with media people and organize sensitization program for them regarding abortion. It has been observed that media people have their own values and they rarely accept abortion a woman’s right. Holding ones values on abortion might give rise to bias news and information which simultaneously lead to #abortionstigma and discrimination.

Likewise, one of the Youth Champions shared that she has been following various articles been published in newspaper and online news regarding abortion, the media always covers news on women deaths and complication due to abortion but they never specify where the deaths and complications are due to safe or unsafe abortion. There is difference between safe or unsafe abortion and reporting accordingly.

LM-abortionStigmaSP-info3-130915_02-1024x1024There was very good discussion among participants and facilitators. One of the media person asked what YOUTHCANN is doing to avoid abortion? Avoid Abortion…….. Well YOUTHCANN never promotes abortion. We are pro-choice and we respect informed choice and decision of every woman. We encourage young people to use modern contraceptive to prevent unwanted pregnancy which may lead to abortion. Even if Government has been giving more emphasis to contraceptive and it is free in almost all the health facilities, women do seek for abortion services. We encourage women and men to have safe and legal abortion which has less complication instead of unsafe traditional abortion which leads to death.

The participants were more curious to know about data on abortion and its failure rate. Also, they were keen to know the percentage of young women going for abortion. They perceive various myths on abortion like:

  • Infographic-2Most of the young unmarried women undergo abortion.
  • Abortion is a crime.
  • Fetus has its right of survival
  • Young people are using abortion as family planning.
  • Repeated abortion is dangerous.
  • Service providers do not want to perform abortion
  • INGOs are promoting abortion.
  • Abortion leads to infertility.
  • Woman needs husband consent for abortion.
  • Young people should not be given SRHR information and access to service.

All these Myths are cleared by the resource person Madhabi and Deepndra Khaniya. Deependra Khaniya is Managing Director of nation’s leading radio station Radio Audio which supports young people’s SRHR and on-air program on safe abortion. Deependra shared that his team receives more than 200 SMS daily from young people between 15 and 24 years which is mostly related to SRHR. Even if we do not allow young people to talk, listen and see SRHR stuffs they will definitely receive information from somewhere which might be incorrect and lead to unexpected situation. These days young people are more prone to social media and it is not always necessary they absorb only good information. Even we are helpless to block or stop the inaccurate information to reach our young people. Therefore, it is our job: media people’s job to clear our own values regarding abortion and provide reliable information to them.

Media should be sensitive when they write articles, news and on-air program on safe abortion. No woman undergoes abortion with her interest. It’s due to some reason and media should analysis those situation. One of youth champion shared that she had read an article which says, “Young girls in school uniform goes to abortion clinics and its increasing.” Well most of our government health facilities are Youth Friendly Service centres. It remains after school to reach most of the young people with information on SRHR. It’s government’s initiation. The YFS centres are in health institutes which provides safe abortion service as well. So, it would be discrimination to young school going girls if we publish on one sided information. May be she was there in health facilities for science project work or her regular meeting with community girls. This kind of bias information only hampers young girls and our country will never progress.

Youth Champion Prabina Sujakhu led value clarification exercise. Upon asking the statement: HIV infected woman should not give birth, most of the participants raise their hand in favor to the statement. The concern was if mother is infected she is not health enough to give birth to healthy baby. Some said infected mother gives birth to infected baby. Upon asking what if she knew pregnant. Most of the participants replied abortion is best option for her. But we facilitator shared its her right whether or not she wants to have her baby and knowing about safe procedure now we have in medicine which protect baby form HIV infection, the participants were forced to rethink.

Likewise, on asking whether husband’s consent is necessary for abortion most of the male participants were in favor to the statement stating mutual decision is the best which won’t lead to disturbance in family. Due to conflict in family, the marriage ends in divorce. But female participants shared that its woman’s body and she has her full right to decide about her pregnancy. There were argument between male and female participants on this statement.

Similarly, on asking abortion is killing fetus all most all the participants agreed upon address fetus as baby and life starts from conception. But the participants seem to be convinced when facilitator shared that there is not any study to show when life begins. Fetus depends on woman’s body as parasite. Life is only counted when it survives with its own.

At the end of the program, a video was shown “News Room Bahira”. The video talks about Sushila Jaisi’s death due to unsafe abortion. This video make the participant realized that even if there is availability of contraception for free of cost, abortion occurs. Abortion is always woman’s last decision. Use of contraception leads to prevent abortion.

The participants shared that this was the first time they had attended session on abortion. They realized bias information leads to #abortionstigma and discrimination. They also promised to contact YOUTHCANN for accurate information and resource materials on abortion as well as SRHR. In deed it was a fruitful orientation.

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Safe Abortion Day

Nepal celebrated its first “Safe Abortion Day” today. The celebration has actually #BustTheMyth regarding policy makers are not positive to abortion laws and policies. Also, it has #BustTheMyth on government officials not being positive to safe abortion law. The event was formally inaugurated by honorable health minister of Nepal Mr. Khag Raj Adhikhari. He shared his experience on abortion topic in parliament where few renown policy makers are still against abortion. The celebration has also brought all the partner organizations and stakeholder together with media to work together for betterment of the safe abortion laws and policies in Nepal.

The program was jointly organized by Family Health Division and partner organization like Sunaulo Parivar Nepal/ Marie Stopes International, Ipas Nepal, Centre For Reproductive Rights, Family Planning Association of Nepal, FWLD, action works, Beyond Beijing, Safe Motherhood Network Federation and Youth Action Nepal.

Youth Champion Advocacy Network Nepal also participated in the program. The slogan for the Safe Abortion Day 2015 address importance on family planning to avoid unwanted pregnancy and emphasis on safe abortion service if needed in safe and legal service sites.

Sharing about abortion scenario worldwide:

  • estimated 22 million unsafe abortion every year
  • nearly all unsafe abortion (98%) occur in developing countries
  • 13% (47000) of the pregnancy related death is due to complication of unsafe abortion (WHO 2012)
  • 5 million are estimated to suffer disability as a result of complications due to unsafe abortion

Safe Abortion program helps government focus on indicators like it helps to reduce MMR and morbidity and helps in creasing CPR and reduction of TFR. Preventing abortion related morbidity and mortality by increasing access to safe abortion services which leads to decrease in MMR. Likewise, preventing future unintended pregnancies by increasing access to post abortion modern contraceptive methods increase CPR and decrease TFR.

Nepal: From Law and Policies to Programs 

  • 2002- Abortion legalization
  • 2003- Procedural Order & Safe Abortion Policy
  • 2004- National Standards, protocol, guidelines, training materials and training centres and first SAS maternity hospital
  • 2007- Introduction of CAC by nurses
  • 2008- Introduction of 2nd trim services
  • 2009- national MA scale up strategy
  • 2011- National SAL implementation guideline
  • 2015- Announcement of free service by government

Facts on Abortion- Current Status in Nepal

  • 25% of pregnancies are unplanned in Nepal (NDHS 2011)
  • Only 38% of women Know that abortion in Nepal is legal
  • Knowledge is very low among no education (20%) and lowest wealth quintile (20%)

Safe Abortion Services: Achievements

  • CAC service is available in government health facilities. CAC is available in all 75 districts at district and upper level health facilities. MA service at health post and primary health post level in 41 districts and second tri are available in 22 hospitals. In addition to Government, NGOs and certain private institutions are also providing safe abortion services.
  • Safe abortion service was started in Nepal in 2004. Since then about 7 lakh fifty thousand benefited from safe abortion services. This saved many deaths of women and morbidity of women also reduce the cost of health services.
  • A study was conducted in 2004, 2007 and 2010 to access the impact of abortion legalization. It was found that by 2010 the percentage of severe complications due to unsafe abortion decreased significantly post abortion legalization.
  • As part of CAC, safe delivery sites also office family planning counseling and services to women after abortion. In Ipas supported 15 districts it was found that among the women who received safe abortion service, 80% use any kind of FP services.

Major Achievements:

  • More than 2245 health care providers trained in SA care under NHTC
  • 809 sites authorized for SA
  • All 75 districts of Nepal has SA sites- even the most remote areas
  • Abortion care is part of HMIS
  • Over 7,00,000 Nepali women have received SA care services
  • About 80% of women also received post abortion contraception
  • Less than 2% experience complication
  • Medical Abortion introduced in 2010 and available in 41 districts in PHC and HP level. (Data up to June 2014, FHD)

There still challenges that Nepal needs to over come like how to address few emerging issues such as abortion as method of contraception, use of emergency contraception as regular contraception particularly among adolescents, sex selective abortions. Another challenge is to provide free abortion services and further scaling up of program ensuring equity and quality. Similarly, we should ensure post abortion contraception particularly LARC and monitoring of free abortion services.