30-year-old Saabira is one of the safe2choose counselors and is based in India. Her everyday life includes talking to women through their abortions and guiding them to make informed choices about their bodies. Although abortion is legal in India, she – like many abortion counselors – deals with moments where she feels judged by society for her career choice. She spoke to safe2choose about what A Day in the Life of an abortion counselor in India is like. Here is her story:
I usually start my day at work with an urgency to open my mailbox, knowing that there will be women around the globe waiting for my support. Coming from a conservative town in North India, I can easily say it is not easy for me to be an abortion counselor. Although abortion is legal in India based on therapeutic, medical, and humanitarian grounds, there is a huge stigma around it because of the high rate of female feticide cases and socio-cultural beliefs.
I can’t say this is exactly what I thought of doing 10 years ago or when I was pursuing my Bachelor’s in Physical Therapy. It was definitely not what my family and friends expected either when I went abroad for higher studies. But exposing myself to the field of Maternal and Child Health and pursuing a graduate degree in this domain has led me to witness the everyday issue women deal with from close quarters. It is because of this that I feel the urge to be part of the solution. I feel compelled to contribute to a society where women enjoy their rights and sexuality without fear or judgment.
Working as an abortion counselor in India is a conscious choice I made to expand my horizon and help women in exercising their reproductive rights -this motivates me every day. To be candid, I haven’t found it emotionally easy. There are days when I look back and question my decision. I have also wondered if I should feel guilty of what I do, or be proud of it. Each day, I come across women from different parts of the world who need support and sympathy. There are cases from many underprivileged parts of the world where the women are neither allowed to have access to abortion services nor have the financial capability (to raise a child ).
I have encountered anxious, betrayed, aggrieved, and uncertain women in my tenure as an abortion counselor. I have encountered women who are uncertain about their immediate future but worried about their fertility. They often need confirmation that they will conceive again when they decide it in the future. It is difficult for any woman to make such decisions, but I have never found it difficult to respect those decisions. Being able to talk to them through these moments re-affirms my faith that I made the right professional choice in my career, and I stand by my choice as an abortion counselor.
At the end of each day, I breathe a usual sigh of relief with a sense of achievement, knowing that I have helped women across the globe in supporting their choices. I open the door of my office room and find my partner in the kitchen asking me how my day at work went. I mumble something cliché and get straight to the point as I am tired after a long day: “How about making a cup of tea for me?”
safe2choose counselors are a team of dedicated individuals who work round the clock to ensure women have access to information on both at home abortions and in-clinic abortions. The counselors are located all across the world and speak a variety of languages including Wolof, Spanish, Portuguese, Kiswahili, French, English, and Hindi. You can reach the safe2choose counselors by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the live chat option on the website.