Meera’s abortion is nobody’s business

“Meera denies abortion” read the headline in a story published in The News on April 10, 2012. Whereas this piece of news might have piqued the curiosity of many and gained many clicks and views, all I felt after reading this piece was pity and shame; I felt terribly ashamed of our media. 

Have we stooped so low so as to humiliate and disclose details of someone’s personal life? Celebrity or not, reporting on someone’s abortion, obviously meant to be kept secret, oversteps a line and is unethical to say the least. The article mentions how Meera was repeatedly phoned and hounded, after which she switched her cellphone off.

This is blatant and unabashed harassment. While this form of aggression in gaining information to secure a news story might be considered acceptable in extreme circumstances, Meera getting an abortion does not meet that criteria. I am shocked that this piece of idle gossip even found space in one of the leading newspapers of our country.

It is this simple: journalists have no business reporting on whether or not Meera had an abortion.

I haven’t studied journalism, but am still aware of the clause of ‘harm limitation’, which says that journalists are duty bound to show compassion and protect the reputation of those they are reporting about. Why have journalists in Pakistan forgotten how to do this? Does being a ’controversy queen’ mean that Meera must be followed, harassed and publicly shamed?

It is reported in the story that Meera’s father-in-law was contacted, who disclosed that he was ‘shocked’ by the news. The story hints at the father of this baby being Meera’s fiancé’ Captain Naveed Pervaiz – the name Meera registered in the hospital under. Again, this is a cheap attempt at yellow journalism, aimed at encouraging gossip. The article claims that Meera and her father-in-law have a troubled relationship – a cheap shot at trying to ape Indian soaps and get people talking – adding needless spice to an article. If the term ‘trash sells’ holds any weight, this article is sure proof. It troubles me greatly to think what our aspiring journalists are learning by the example set by our media today.

What has me really stumped is how The News even got access to this story. Doctor-patient confidentiality was clearly breached here, and the doctor in question should most definitely be stripped of her medical license. Law dictionaries define doctor-patient confidentiality as:

“Doctor-patient confidentiality is based upon the general principle that a person seeking medical help or advice should not be hindered or inhibited by fear that his or her medical concerns or conditions will be disclosed to others.”

Why then was Meera denied this privilege? I don’t pretend to endorse anything the actor has done, but I do believe that she should be entitled to the basic rights the rest of us enjoy.

Meera must be suffering a painful ordeal as the result of this news article. I can say this because I personally know two people who have had to undergo abortions because the fetus had died in their uterus. Seeing the emotional and physical pain they suffered due as a result of this just makes me wonder how Meera is coping, if indeed the news is true. As a woman, my heart goes out to her. As if dealing with the psychological and emotional baggage of losing a child isn’t enough, she now has to now worry about facing to the public and being questioned and labeled.

Whether she carried a child out of wedlock or not, this piece of news crosses a personal boundary. It is obvious that the film-star did not desire any publicity based on her abortion. Why weren’t her wishes honoured? Does she deserve to be harassed and exposed because she is a celebrity? Have journalists crossed all boundaries, to the extent that they would land up with a camera in someone’s bedroom just to get a scoop?

Shame on our media.

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