CommonHealth

Coalition for Reproductive Health and Safe Abortion

Who We Are


CommonHealth

Constituted in 2006, CommonHealth is a rights-based, multi-state coalition of organization and individuals that advocates for increased access to sexual and reproductive health care and services to improve health conditions of women and marginalized communities. Within sexual and reproductive health and rights, CommonHealth concentrates its efforts largely on Maternal health and Safe abortion. The coalition draws its membership from diverse disciplines, thematic areas and geographies within the country.

Decriminalisation of Abortion

About


In May 2020, CREA and CommonHealth organised a series of 3 webinars on decriminalisation of abortion in India. The webinars interrogated the history of abortion laws in India, their current status, challenges in accessing abortion services and advocacy strategies as a way forward through an intersectional cross-movement lens. The series sought an in-depth discussion on the current political, social and legal landscape along with the implications of COVID-19, public system preparedness, the recent amendments to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and the legal pathways to ease women’s access to abortion services (beyond COVID-19 as well)


Background


The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) makes abortion (‘miscarriage’) a criminal offence. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 is the exception to this law. The MTP safeguards registered medical practitioners by laying down certain conditions under which abortion is possible. However, the law does not consider the reproductive autonomy of the person seeking the abortion. On 17th March 2020, the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Parliament) approved an amendment to the MTP which is in fact a heteronormative, eugenic and patriarchal approach to abortion with no consideration to consent or bodily autonomy of the person seeking the service.


Additionally, the pandemic has raised further concerns of the access to abortion and has demonstrated the stark levels of marginalization, discrimination and stigma present in our societies. In particular, from the perspective of sexual and reproductive health & rights (SRHR), we saw a growing evidence of the pandemic having an impact on the everyday needs of people in accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare.

What’s next


We believe that abortion is every person’s right and should be a stigma-free safe health service out of the purview of criminal justice system.


In the coming weeks, starting today, we will be sharing key takeaways including the graphic recordings of the discussions illustrated by Sonaksha Iyengar from the series of 3 webinars across our website and Facebook channel.


We hope that you engage with these online deliberations – do spread the word!


Organisers


CREA

Founded in 2000, CREA is a feminist human rights organisation based in New Delhi, India. It works to advance the rights of women and girls, and the sexual and reproductive freedoms of all people.


CommonHealth

CommonHealth is a multi-state coalition of organisations and individuals working to advocate for better access to sexual and reproductive health and healthcare, with a specific focus on maternal health and safe abortion. Some of CommonHealth’s work on safe abortion has emerged out of its wider engagement with ARROW as part of the SRHR related regional work that ARROW has been leading.

Building a Common Understanding

CommonHealth and CREA are excited to share the recording of the first webinar from our 3-part series on #decriminalisation of #abortion in India

#Webinar 1 one aims to build a common understanding – analyze historical context, understand what decriminalisation represents, understand the existing laws and learn from other movements including the sex workers’ rights movement & movement to decriminalize homosexuality in India.

Access to Abortion Services in the Context of Government Programmes, Pandemic/Health Crisis and Changes in the Abortion Laws

What does abortion access look like during a pandemic? What provisions are available for legal, safe and accessible services in the current legal and public health context of the country?

Our second webinar from the 3-part – CommonHealth – CREA webinar series on decriminalization of abortion in India The second #webinar discusses in detail the #COVID19 impact on abortion services, available provisions for legal and safe access and what could be the possible immediate, mid-term and long-term advocacy steps for safe abortion.

Aiming Towards Safe Abortion Access for Pregnant Persons in India: Post Pandemic and Beyond

What are the pros and cons of existing law and proposed amendments to the abortion laws in the context of availability of safe, legal and rights based services?

What are the pros and cons of #decriminalisation of abortion in the context of availability of safe, legal and rights based services?

What could be our collective advocacy goals for safe abortion access/ rights?

The third and final part of CommonHealth- CREA webinar series on decriminalisation of abortion in India addresses these questions and more – watch this very useful discussion here…

What We Do


Influence Discourse

Provide thought leadership and influence the sexual

and reproductive health discourse.

Capacity building and Mentoring

Organize capacity building and discourse influencing workshops with diverse actors such as policymakers, state officials, grassroots organisations, researchers, lawyers and healthcare providers. CommonHealth also support, facilitate and mentor advocacy projects at the grassroots level.

Dissemination

Disseminate relevant information among CommonHealth members and at various local, regional, national and international fora.

Evidence building

Build evidence about the status of sexual and reproductive health and rights for advocacy at local, national and international levels.

Creating common ground

Provide a forum for members to share their experiences in meetings and through social media. CommonHealth also provide opportunities for peer-support and learning through collaborative initiatives among members.

Mobilize advocates

Mobilize advocates to adopt a rights-based and gender equity perspective.

CommonHealth’s Achievements


Dead Women Talking, a study of maternal deaths carried out in different parts of the country, emerged as the most impactfull work as it increased visibility of maternal deaths – both nationally and globally. The study resulted in the incorporation of Maternal Death Reviews as one of the responsibilities of a number of district level health committees.

CommonHealth pioneered the “Creating Common Ground” agenda for activists working to prevent sex-selection and those working to promote access to safe abortion, in order to expand the constituency supporting the demand for safe abortion services.

The coalition contributed to the civil society shadow report for the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Universal Periodic Review, Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

CommonHealth’s Advocates’ Guide for Rights-based Contraceptive Services will soon be converted into a tool to monitor the service provision of contraceptives in different settings.

Timely information is provided to members in the form of factsheets and through the CommonHealth listserv.