Abortion Autonomy

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Inna Hudaya was a woman in trouble. Lying in a shoddy hotel room, she squeezed her eyes closed as an old woman performed an abortion on her with no anesthesia and no painkillers. They barely spoke a word after the exchange of money — a lot of money, money Hudaya had borrowed and for which she had sold many of her possessions including her motorbike to repay. This, Hudaya thought to herself, is how I will die.

But what else was she supposed to do? She was 22, pregnant, unmarried, and living in Indonesia, a country where abortion remains illegal in nearly all cases and out-of-wedlock pregnancy is intensely stigmatized. A medical student, Hudaya was just getting a toehold on a life she hoped would keep her out of Tasikmalaya, the conservative city she fled after high school. Having a baby would mean the end of everything: her studies, her relationship with her family, her freedom.

The procedure ended, and Hudaya walked out of the hotel room alive. The pain, though, persisted. Her relationship ended. A close relative disowned her, telling her it is a sin for a woman to kill her own blood. For years, Hudaya had the same dream: a baby chasing her, crying.

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