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Sony TV show: Abortion episode draws ire of women activists

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Some groups have alleged that an episode of a TV programme on a private channel has "stigmatised abortion" by showing it in poor light.

The first episode of 'Zindagi Ke Crossroads' was aired on Wednesday on Sony Entertainment Television, and revolved around the plight of a couple, who got to know that their child would be born with special needs.

It was about abortion and sought public opinion on what a woman should do if she was faced with a foetal abnormality during pregnancy, i.e., whether she should go for an abortion or not.

Besides, the channel also put up an advertisement of the show in a leading newspaper, which, a rights group alleged, was "insensitive" and "misleading".

"It is disheartening to note that a popular Indian is using irresponsible provocative content to promote their reality show. Abortion is a legal process and should be dealt between the decision-maker and medical facilities," city-based Advocating Reproductive Choices (ARC) said in a statement.

ARC is a coalition of more than 170 organisations and individuals, committed to advocating for greater attention and focus on sexual and reproductive health issues and in the country.

"Bringing such issues into public forum, efforts in generating discussion around those with limited cross-sectoral representation from medical fraternity and advocates, rather than just lay audience, who may not be aware of the issues, has actually compromised the content of the episode," it alleged.

"We expected that the channel does necessary background research and equips itself to handle discussion around such sensitive issues rather than further stigmatising abortion," it said.

India, when contacted, said, "The advertorial or the episodic content of this fiction show merely sought to portray the dilemma facing the protagonist."

"This particular episode of the fiction show, 'Zindagi Ke Crossroads', depicts the protagonist at a 'crossroad' wherein she needs to choose between continuing with her pregnancy as opposed to terminating it by way of an abortion, when she realises that her child will be born with special needs," the network said in a statement.

The protagonist chooses to continue with the pregnancy and brings up the child with love and affection. At a later stage when she realises that the child also needs professional help, she's again at a crossroad, it said.

"She has to decide whether to leave the child at the centre or educate the child herself. Towards the end of the episode we see that the protagonist decides to stay back at the centre with her child and care for children with special needs," the statement said.

Each episode of this fictional show portrays different dilemmas faced by people, the network said.

In India, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 allows women to terminate their pregnancy under certain circumstances.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, June 08 2018. 22:30 IST