Today going through all those events which had great impact on me and people around in 2016 I scroll on one of the most interesting talk series organized by Marie Stopes Nepal in co-ordination with CREASION Nepal- Debunking Myths.
Debunking Myths is a series devoted towards bringing into light the myths that have taken a hold of our society’s image of the world around it. With our focus primarily on instilling the desire to test society’s behavior towards specific problems in young people, Debunking Myths works with experienced, yet ever-curious keynote speakers and a committed audience, this program hopes to achieve the change that CREASION always speaks of. Change that is self-sustainable and positive for all parties committed.
The episode on Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life was all focused on different kind of myths related to Abortion. Being a neutral person participants in the hall listened to view of both pro-lifers and pro-choisers and later raised their questions. “All we want is people to know different angle of taking same thing and judge themselves about right and wrong”-Organizer.
Every time I spoke in favor of safe abortion being woman’s SRHR, I have been hearing about pro-life organization’s existence in Nepal which has different views. I had this amazing vibe in 2016 to meet the focal person of the pro-life organization. I had known their work when they placed this annoying exhibition booth in “Children and Education” related program saying “Abortion is a crime” and their wall painting in Thapathali denoting “Abortion means killing a baby.” The debunking episode also invited representative from pro-life organization. Similarly, the event had keynote speakers from Youth Champion Advocacy Network Nepal (YouthCANN), Marie Stopes Nepal and guest speaker from Centre for Reproductive Rights- Nepal (CRR).
This person from pro-life organization is HUMAN. Yes, he is however talking totally opposite and abstract on “life in fetus”. He also handed me a sample of fetus- the sponge baby shaped miniature saying this is how the fetus looks like and feel when it is within 12 weeks in the uterus. This is ridiculous. This conversation didn’t end here. He quoted name of various researchers and acclaimed that the researches on “Life in Fetus” are evidence based and scientific. However, I had never heard of those philosophers/academic researchers name ever. These were all unauthentic I believe. The research which pissed me off was on “Rape & Pregnancy”. The presentation showed only 1% of pregnancy is resulted by rape/incest. He stressed on saying every rape/incest does not reciprocate to pregnancy- indicating rape/incest is not an excuse for terminating pregnancy. He then referred abortion is crime as it has been trend/fashion. On asking where he got all these data, he did not have any answer and started yelling on us claiming pro-choice supporters are here in group to demoralize him and his team. I did not know our presence and our questions could make him frustrated out of nothing. His arguments were baseless. Comparing to other pro-lifers he also talked about morals however, he presented pointless discussions.
The discussion on Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life was really intense. Almost all participants were young people. Most of them were bombarded with the terminologies for the first time. Each one of them had different views. However, they all supported safe & legal abortion as the young woman’s sexual and reproductive health rights. The participants raised questions when the pro-life presenter spoke about adoption even if a woman does not want to continue her pregnancy. To convince the audiences he shared the woman who has unwanted pregnancy will be totally taken care by his organization in a shelter home. Once, she delivers her child will be given for adoption. People talk about women terminating their pregnancy regret, what about a woman who does not want to deliver is forced/manipulated to and given for adoption.
I got hyper when he was talking about these nonsense. The best thing I observed during the episode was a young girl, facilitating the discussion was sharing her abortion experience. Hats off to her. I have never meet young woman as bold as her.
A woman’s decisions are her own, and it is women who live with the outcomes of reproductive choices, not the society.
She also referred to Safe Abortion Law of Nepal being liberal and allowing young woman like her to take her own decision about her bodily integrity and autonomy. She also said that the decision she took few years back was the best decision which helped her to continue her education and career plus facilitate the very session.
We always try to compete with our competitors. We never think about getting their back or side for our cause. Here, pro-lifers and pro-choisers are trying their best to improve the woman’s life. They both believe on sexual and reproductive health rights. However, we a part when it comes to abortion. Have we ever tried to pull them in our side and make them jell with our ideology and cause? At least I don’t. I was really pissed off when the representative from pro-life organization talked about anti-choice and highlighted pro-life philosophy. Ms. Purna Shrestha- Senior Program Officer/ Advocate from CRR Nepal remind me of how our argument should be effective in terms of convincing our opponents with reasons and backing up our points with scientific evidences. This has been the best learning and will be implementing same in 2017.