“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” ~ Psalm 139:13-14
For Women’s History Month, we are sharing wisdom from our sisters in Christ on a very common and natural part of their lives and ministries – the tragedy of abortion and crisis pregnancy. Today we share Priya’s* experience. Read from Jandi* in Nepal and Rina* in Bangladesh.
Priya leads GATE, Gypsy and Tribal Empowerment. Gypsies and tribal people, generally considered to be below the lowest castes in India’s social hierarchy, are not viewed as fully human in their society and by the government. Priya has dedicated her life to sharing the Gospel with words and action. She has helped these communities gain civil rights – helping them access land, education, job training, and proper water and electricity. About 2000 families are included in the reach of her ministry.
Priya* shares, “I know abortion is unhealthy, it’s killing someone, it’s dangerous. My husband’s sister died from an abortion. My mother in law gave her herbs and she died when she was 18. She was three months pregnant.
In Gypsy centers where I minister it is common for people to get an illegal abortion. Some go to illegal doctors, or some take herbs. Then they lie and tell people they had a miscarriage. Herbs are common.
Mothers pass on knowledge of how to do abortion, the same way they pass on knowledge of giving birth.
I think about 50% of the women in my communities will have an abortion in their lifetimes.
Recently, one woman got pregnant and she went to a palm reader who told the mother of the pregnant woman that if the baby was born it would be bad. So she forced her daughter for an abortion. I am seeing people abort every month. Four women died in the last couple of years. Just a couple of months ago, the fourth woman died.
In these communities they want to abort if their husband divorces them (the woman has no control over divorce), because if the woman gives birth to that child, she doesn’t feel like she can get married again. Men will reject her. If they have only girls and get another one, they want an abortion; females are not valued.
Some people who have another child, a third or fourth, some people go for abortion. Because they cannot afford the baby. The baby and sometimes mother are likely to die. I have seen women starve to death trying to feed their children.
To lessen abortions I believe it is important to take care of everyone – to hold awareness programs. Men won’t use condoms, so it is better for women to do family planning as they are able. I help them with this. The other problem is that they are not educated. They can’t read or write. This is why encouraging education is so important. This is why it has been important for the girls to go to school early. I have taught classes on both the physical danger of abortion and the value of the child, alongside family planning classes. Females have to speak about family planning for things to change.
I get tired of talking to the men about their reasons for wanting their wives to get abortion. But I love them and listen to them.
Often, preventing an abortion is just being able to promise them milk for the first year of life of the baby. I want to do more of this.
If we can promise two years of support for milk and nutrition for a mother and new baby, we would stop so many abortions.
Poverty alleviation, education, and empowerment of women is so important.”
*Names changed for safety