On 3 August, a Campaign member from CommonHealth in India wrote to say that a very disturbing article had appeared in The Hindu about women’s right to abortion having to be balanced against the right to life of the fetus. The article, entitled “A tricky debate on abortion”, was by K Kannan, former Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the same court that in 2015, rejected the plea of the father of a 14-year-old rape survivor to allow termination of her 24-week pregnancy (see Campaign newsletter, 3 August).
One of the themes of this issue of Conscience is “conscience and autonomy”. How did these concepts develop and what role have they played in determining our beliefs about abortion and other reproductive health issues? How do medical professionals weigh their personal beliefs against their responsibilities to patients? What about women who have no opportunities to exercise either conscience or autonomy in decisions about their reproductive health?