NEW DELHI: A TV reality show, which aired the struggle of a woman to decide whether to abort an abnormal foetus in an episode this week, has drawn sharp reactions from women’s health groups who have called the content “misleading, insensitive and misconstrued”.
Many groups have written to Sony TV, who aired the show, saying that bringing such a sensitive issue to entertainment television was in “poor taste”.
The first episode of the show Zindagi Ke Crossroads on June 6 was on abortion. The show sought public opinion on what a woman should do if she is faced with a foetal abnormality during pregnancy and whether or not she must go for an abortion.
Several advocacy groups have also slammed advertorials published by the channel in the newspapers for using “irresponsible provocative content to promote a reality show.”
“Abortion is a legal process and should be dealt with between the decision-maker and medical fraternity,” said Advocating Reproductive Choices, an advocacy group on safe abortions in a statement. “Bringing such issues into public forum, and efforts in generating discussion around them with audience who may not be aware of the issues, rather than with limited cross-sectoral representation from medical fraternity and advocates, have actually compromised the content of the episode,” it said.
Vinoj Manning, executive director with Ipas Development Foundation, said that while he understood that the purpose of the programme was to put forth the challenges people face in life, a personal choice on whether to have abortion or not cannot be allowed to be a subject of public debate. “We all need to remember that abortion is a woman’s personal decision and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 recognises this,” he said.
Pratigya, a campaign for gender equality, said that the show has stigmatised abortion by linking it to “killing her own child” (that was the headline given in the advertorial) giving an impression that abortion is a criminal or illegal act.
“We acknowledge that the fact that abortion is legal was mentioned by the doctor (in the show). However, given the emotional scenes, we are afraid it is likely to be completely missed by the audiences,” it said.