Monday, December 11, 2017 12:04:37 PM

A womb of one’s own: Life, abortion and motherhood in Sri Lanka

By Meghal Perera - Sat Sep 23, 3:56 am

Paul Mezzer/FRF/Getty via The Irish Times

From well-intentioned comments about our weight and skin colour, to the insidious experience of being followed as we walk on the street, women are wearily aware that their bodies are public property.  The proposed change to the abortion law does little to address this, but at the very least it offers some relief to the victims of rape – the ultimate violence that occupies the dark end of a spectrum of suggestions, unsolicited remarks, straying hands and force.

Whether they acknowledge the patriarchy or not, opponents of abortion ultimately seek to maintain a status quo that limits women’s bodily autonomy and coerces them into permanent motherhood or life-threatening illegal procedures. While people who are against abortion do not need to have one, it is strange that they feel entitled to make this decision on behalf of every fertile woman in Sri Lanka, ignorant of context and untouched by the consequences of their actions.

It is possible to lobby to make Sri Lanka a better place for unwed mothers, to improve the quality of life of disabled people and demand that resources be allocated to improve existing systems of social care for children, but in doing so, you have to still accept that this debate happens in the gritty, unpleasant, cash-strapped version of Sri Lanka, not the utopian version we sell in our civics books.

Opponents of abortion might believe that life is sacred, and must be protected at all costs and to legalize abortion would violate the inalienable right to life….

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