Gender Justice – Despite skewed sex ratio, conviction under PCPNDT Act rare


SMILEGIRL1

Despite India’s declining child sex ratio, as many as 30 states and union territories have not convicted even a single person for pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic between 2011 and 2013, raising concerns about the poor implementation of the PCPNDT Act.

The five states which have worst child sex ratio (CSR) – Daman and Diu (618 girls per 1,000 boys), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (775), Chandigarh (818), Delhi (866) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (878) – have also not punished anyone during the period.

The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 was enacted to stop female foeticide and arrest the declining sex ratio by banning pre-natal sex determination.

Child sex ratio in India has reached an alarming low with 918 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011 from 927 in 2001, but not much seems to have been done to ensure strict implementation of the Act to deter female foeticide.

According to data available with the Health Ministry, only 32 people have been punished in the whole country as against 563 cases reported for conducting sex determination tests between 2011 and 2013.

The data shows that only four states convicted 13 people in 2013.

In 2012, eight persons were punished by three states and in 2011, 11 people by four states.

Punjab, which has one of the lowest CSR with 895 girls to 1,000 boys, has convicted only two persons in the period while it reported 52 such cases.

Haryana with 879 CSR registered 54 cases under the Act but no conviction took place.

Similarly, Delhi registered 10 cases but could not manage to punish anyone.

The phenomenon has spread to areas which were not known for disparity in CSR including tribal areas and eastern states, said a Women and Child Development Ministry official.

The trend was particularly acute in more developed areas of the country including metropolitan cities.

Non-implementation of the Act has been the biggest failing of the campaign against sex selection, the officialsaid.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/despite-skewed-sex-ratio-conviction-for-female-foeticide-rare-115051000106_1.html

Pune – ‘IVF ad for male child’ illegal under PCPNDT Act


‘IVF ad for male child’
Indira IVF centre in Viman Nagar has claimed the advert was not intentional (PICS: DHANANJAY HELWADE)
Activist serves legal notice to civil surgeon, PMC alleging fertility clinic promises baby ‘Krishna’ for all.

A private fertility clinic has been caught on the wrong side of law after its bid for publicity was alleged to be a promotion to beget a male child. An activist has sent a legal notice to the district civil surgeon of Ahmednagar as well as the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), urging them to take action against Indira IVF centre at Viman Nagar for putting gender specific words in an advertisement for their camp in Ahmednagar.

Ganesh Borhade, who sent the notice three to four days ago, informed Mirror, “The advertisement says ‘Nisantaata Bharat Chhodo’ (Childlessness Leave India). It’s a campaign for every house to have Lord Krishna playing in the yard. Here, they could have used a gender neutral word. However, these words point at a male child. This is in contravention of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act.” For a case that falls under this Act, one can only approach the appropriate authority — a legal designation under the PCPNDT Act — in this case, the district civil surgeon to take suitable action. The reason Borhade sent a notice to PMC as well was because the IVF centre was under the civic body’s jurisdiction.

The advertisement had appeared in a prominent local daily in Ahmednagar on May 20. Subsequently, Borhade had sent a text message to the contact number provided. In reply, he was asked to visit Hotel Farhat on May 23 (last Saturday), where an appointment had been fixed for him in the morning. He, of course, didn’t pursue the appointment anymore.

Pointing to a general trend followed by clinics offering sex determination services, Borhade said, “They don’t inform you directly whether it’s a girl or a boy. They generally have male and female deities on either side of the wall. If it’s a girl child, they look upon the wall with the female god and pray and, in case of a male child, they pray to the male god. Such sign language is also prohibited by the PCPNDT Act.”

He has alleged that the IVF centre is covertly suggesting that it will help people to conceive a male child. “Why use the word Lord Krishna? Why not any other female goddess or, for that matter, just the word child?

This is leading people to believe that the clinic specialises in male children,” he stressed, adding that the authorities should have acted on their own accord, rather than wait for a legal notice.

When Mirror contacted the Ahmednagar civil surgeon, Dr S M Sonawane, he said, “I will immediately call for a copy of the newspaper and accordingly ask the state appropriate authority to take action. We will also give suitable replies to the legal notice.” On the other hand, PMC’s appropriate authority, Dr Vaishali Jadhav, informed, “We have sought an opinion from experts on this and will take action accordingly.”

However, Indira IVF centre insisted that the advert was a clear case of oversight, stressing that nothing was intentional. “We have strict norms when it comes to the PCPNDT Act. We support the Beti Bachao Andolan. Everywhere in the centre, and even on our letterhead, we have written that we do not practise prenatal sex determination here. We are originally based in Udaipur, so we think in Hindi. We did not think it would mean something like this when we wrote the ad. It was not our intention either,” said Nitiz Murdia, the clinic’s marketing head.

Modi’s shaky race to save India’s girls 


  • beti

Amritsar, May 23 (IANS/IndiaSpend) It’s a substantial but sparse two-room house, and flies infest the courtyard, buzzing ceaselessly around Manseerat Gill, 14 days old. Undisturbed by their buzzing, she sleeps peacefully.

For the next six years — thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s determination to fight the country’s bias against daughters — Manseerat’s well-being and survival will be the responsibility of a six-foot-tall man with piercing eyes and a full, flowing grey beard.

Ranjit Singh Buttar is a rare male gynaecologist here in this holy Sikh city, and as district health officer, he has many other tasks, including running rural health centres, delivering contraceptives and ensuring polio inoculations to every new born.

Amritsar is one of 100 Indian “gender-critical” districts — 10 are in Punjab, among India’s five richest states by per capita income — included in Modi’s “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save a daughter, educate a daughter)” programme, launched in January to fight the nation’s deep-rooted bias against daughters.

A poster for the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign is outside the District Commissioner’s office in Amritsar.

“The discrimination against girls is an illness, an illness of the heart, which leads us to think sons are more important,” said Modi at the launch. “Even in feeding, a mother adds ghee to a son’s ‘khichri’ but will deny this to a daughter.”

Modi is not the first prime minister to realise that is losing girls. While the 1990s saw three such programmes, since 2005 there have been 11 schemes, one following the other, to ensure that more girls — discriminated against at birth and in upbringing — are born, live, go to school and do not marry early.

Yet, the girls continue to disappear. About 2,000 girls die — aborted or starved, poisoned or otherwise killed after birth — every day in India, according to Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who provided this data in April. The estimates of women so missing range from two million to 25 million.

Gandhi said Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao — which, among other things, seeks to eliminate gender-based foeticide and ensure survival of the girl child — was already showing surprising results.

“Hundreds of girl children are being thrown into orphanages in these 100 districts,” she told NDTV in an interview. “I was in Amritsar and the DC (Deputy commissioner) told me they had received 89 girls this month. I thought this is a weird statistic.”

It is. The minister got things wrong, INDIASPEND’s reporting indicates. The 82 girls she cites were abandoned in Amritsar not since January but since 2008, not as an impact of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ but as a general malaise of giving up daughters.

What Amritsar did since 2008 was to collect these abandoned children as part of a “Pangura” (cradle in Punjabi) programme, housed in an International Red Cross building. Parents can leave children at a cradle here, instead of on the road or in fields. When a child arrives, a bell alerts staff, who place it in a hospital and later with adoption agencies.

Pangura, which has a physical cradle placed in the International Red Cross building, has collected 82 abandoned girls in Amritsar since 2008.

Pangura received 92 children since 2008, 82 of them girls. The scheme is a reasonable success, but 82 girls saved over seven years will not impact skewed gender ratios. Besides, experts said abandoning daughters is no better than killing them.

PM Modi’s “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” programme appears to focus on changing mindsets. Its first step is to spread awareness: Mobile vans and material have reached districts.

What has not reached districts is money.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley set aside Rs.100 crore for ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ in the 2015-16 budget. Each district in the hundred gender-critical districts will get Rs.55 lakh for 2014-15, followed by Rs.31 lakh in 2015-16.

Buttar’s office is yet to get the first tranche of funds, two months after Jaitley’s announcement. Minister Gandhi’s office did not respond to INDIASPEND’s interview request.

If Modi’s programme has to impact pint-sized Manseerat, money, while important, is not the only factor. The effort, as past experience shows, cannot be piece-meal, split by bureaucracy, confused and uncoordinated.

India’s political history is littered with programmes to protect girls such as Manseerat. Dhanalakshmi. Bhagyalakshmi. Rajalakshmi. Ladli. Balri Rakshak Yojana. Indira Gandhi Balika Suraksha Yogana. Balika Samridhi Yojana. Beti Hai Anmol. Mukhya Mantri Kanya Suraksha Yojana. Mukhya Mantri Kanyadan Scheme. Most have been of limited or no efficacy, hobbled by a rigid array of conditions and uncertainties about why they have not worked.

“(Our) findings point to the need to simplify the eligibility criteria and conditionalities, and also the procedures of registration under each of these schemes,” noted a United Nations Population Fund study.

“Though year after year substantial financial resources have been directed towards promoting these schemes, there is a lack of field-level monitoring. In the absence of a proper grievance-redressal mechanism, the challenges often multiply. In some states, the lack of coordination across different sectors such as health, education and social welfare is adversely affecting programme implementation.”

Implementing officers complained that other departments did not cooperate with them. In some states, tardy coordination between financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies, and implementing departments delayed bonds, certificates and bank accounts. In most schemes, the involvement of local village institutions, NGOs and women’s groups was “rather limited”, as the study noted.

The Ministry of Social Welfare has been the nodal ministry for some schemes. State governments run parallel programmes they can tom-tom at election time. The “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” programme, managed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, will be implemented through deputy commissioners and top bureaucrats in each district.

“The effort is fragmented. You need one entity that is then also responsible for results,” said Buttar, whose office has written a plan for the scheme’s implementation covering Amritsar district’s 15 towns and 739 villages, home to 2.5 million people, 8.9 percent of Punjab’s population.

In Punjab, fewer than 850 girls survive to reach the age of six, 68 less than India’s already poor average of 918 daughters to a 1,000 sons. Neighbouring Haryana has 12 districts in the programme. Maharashtra matches Punjab with 10 districts, where fewer girls are allowed to be born or survive compared to India’s average.

What Modi is up against is people’s desire for a male heir. “How can you expect daughters-in-law if you don’t have daughters?” Modi said at the public gathering on the launch of his scheme in Panipat, Haryana.

Not only do disappearing girls take a toll in terms of fewer number of brides and trafficking of women, India loses workforce talent and diversity. For instance, economists have struggled to explain the fall in women in India’s workforce — contrary to global trends — over the 2000s, despite a rise in industrialisation and prosperity.

“Labour participation, same emoluments for same work, nutritional standards–they paint a grim picture,” said Krishna Kumar, a Delhi University professor who has researched discrimination against girls.

Government programmes, he said, are populist but cannot trigger social change.

In Nangli village in Amritsar, Manseerat’s mother, Pinky, fresh-faced and 23, looks too young to have had two children. Both are daughters.

Pinky, 23, looks too young to have two children. Since both are girls, she might try to conceive again in the hope of having a son and “completing the family”.

Thanks to the presence of a trained health worker under the Rural Health Mission run by Buttar’s office, Manseerat was born in a hospital and not at home. She will also be innoculated. Her family of nine — sister, parents, grandparents, three unmarried uncles — live on a monthly income of Rs 15,000.

Pinky, who uses one name, has a ready laugh but it is clear she is disappointed with Manseerat.

“Could have been a son,” she said. “Her father says a son will complete the family.” Pinky’s conversation with her mother-in-law indicated she would give motherhood another shot–in hope of a son.

It is this desire for a male heir that Buttar’s office is up against.

Buttar, whose office keeps a record of gender ratios in Amritsar, said: “I am an eternal optimist; no effort goes waste.”

The optimism, in many ways mirroring Modi’s, will go only so far. To begin with, programmes for the girl child need to be brought under one roof, those involved in the programme said. The implementing department or ministry should have money, manpower and jurisdiction to use the carrot and stick: give incentives to have girls, hold awareness drives to change mindsets and prosecute under the law that criminalises female foeticide.

If the office of district family welfare officer is to be given the key responsibility for Modi’s mission, then that office needs to be rid of diverse tasks, such as running rural health clinics, distributing contraceptives and family planning programmes.

Amritsar’s district family welfare office, headed by Ranjit Singh Buttar. It is already overstretched, serving a population of 2.5 million across 15 towns and 739 villages.

Over two years, 2011-2013, no more than 32 people were punished under the law that criminalises pre-birth gender testing; gender-testing cases reported stood at 563, according to the Press Trust of India. Thirty states have not had even one conviction under this law, noted the Supreme Court of India.

Outside Buttar’s cabin, junior officer Tripta Sharma explained how she successfully played a decoy pregnant woman. She was sent to an ultra-sound clinic that was alleged to have violated the law by offering gender tests. The police made an arrest. But eight court appearances over a year and a half exhausted Sharma. The court dismissed the case.

“We are doctors, not lawyers,” said Buttar, who said his office would appeal the acquittal. He frequently raids ultrasound clinics, checking a third of them by rotation. With reluctant decoys, all his office has by way of checks on doctors and clinics is a document called “Form F”, on which clinics must declare the purpose of the pre-birth test and the doctor-in-charge.

Academic research on female foeticide — research which is dated by now, as foeticide peaked during the 2000s and then dropped off – -has discouraging findings. Female foeticide increases with easy access to medical facilities, ability to pay doctors and the availability of good roads, which cut down travel time, according to demographer Ashish Bose in his book-sex-selective Abortion in India, based on fieldwork in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

In short, progress means more girls could die. Modi’s programme could mean a lot to Manseerat’s future–but not in its current form.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/modi-s-shaky-race-to-save-india-s-girls-special-to-ians-115052300256_1.html

 

Eight wards shame Mumbai with skewed sex ratio at birth


Child sex ratio in India

 

 

By | Feb 20, 2013, 06.57 AM IST

 

MUMBAI: While the civic administration’s statistics show that the sex ratio at birth for Mumbai has improved slightly in the last one year, experts are not too impressed. They say that the administration has to sustain such results over a decade before there is any significant change in the city’s or even India‘s skewed sex ratio.

 

A senior civic official, however, insisted that any increase, however small, is a step in the right direction.

Both Maharashtra and Mumbai, in particular, have shown an anti-girl bias in the last two census.

Civic figures show that the sex ratio at birth – the number of girls born per 1,000 boys – for 2012 was 922:1,000, up from 917 in 2011. But a closer look at the ward-wise break-up shows that eight wards have registered a dip in sex ratio at birth.

In south Mumbai’s Pydhonie area, for instance, only 860 girls were born for every 1,000 boys last year.

In 2011, the locality was placed better at 981 girls per 1,000 boys. In fact, the Pydhonie-Byculla-Parel belt of the island city, the prosperous Goregaon-Malad-Kandivli belt of the western suburbs and the populous belt from Bhandup to Ghatkopar in the eastern suburbs have all shown a dip in sex ratio at birth.

A L Sharada from the NGO, Population First, said it would be premature to think that such marginal increase is of any significance. She added that easy access to medical tools such as ultrasound machines, which can illegally be used to find the sex of the unborn child, was responsible for the skewed sex ratio.

“The cost of living in Mumbai is high. People want small families and still have a great desire for a male child. This is true in both the slums as well as non-slum pockets of the city,” she said.

Sharada added that the BMC should now study why certain areas, such as Parel in south central Mumbai, have consistently registered a lower-than-city-average sex ratio.

Her NGO had earlier conducted a survey to underline poor adherence among ultrasound clinics of the rules laid down under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.

“Until there is stringent conviction for offenders and better gender sensitivity among the population, the problem of skewed sex ratio at birth cannot be solved,” said Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Forum Against Sex Selection.

 

 

 

 

Sex Selection -Illegal ads on #Google in contravention PCPNDT ACT


To

Corporate communication

Google, India

2 November 2012

Complaint—Regarding illegal ads on Google in contravention PCPNDT ACT

The Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act has banned the promotion or advertisement of services that allows one to choose the sex of one’s baby. Yet, Google is carrying advertisements of  the link of IVF that leads to websites that offer these services. Each time a person clicks on the ad, these companies makes money.

The Indian law against sex selection is comprehensive.   Section 22 defines advertisement and Section 26 states the penalties for violation by Companies.  They are given below:

Section 22:  Prohibition of advertisement relating to pre-natal determination of sex and punishment for contravention.

1.    No person, organization, Genetic Counseling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic, including clinic, laboratory or centre having ultrasound machine or imaging machine or scanner or any other technology capable of undertaking determination of sex of foetus or sex selection shall issue, publish, distribute, communicate or cause to be issued, published, distributed or communicated any advertisement, in any form, including Internet, regarding facilities of pre-natal determination of sex or sex selection before conception available at such centre, laboratory, clinic or at any other place.
2.    No person or organization including Genetic Counselling Centre, Genetic Laboratory or Genetic Clinic shall issue, publish, distribute, communicate or cause to be issued, published, distributed or communicated any advertisement in any manner regarding pre-natal determination or preconception selection of sex by any means whatsoever, scientific or otherwise.
3.    Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, “advertisement” includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper or any other document including advertisement through Internet or any other media in electronic or print form and also includes any visible representation made by means of any hoarding, wall-painting, signal, light, sound, smoke or gas.

26. Offences by companies.

(1) Where any offence, punishable under this Act has been committed  by a company, every person who, at the time the offence was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly: Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment, if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence. (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where any offence punishable under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. Explanation.–For the purposes of this section,– (a) “company” means anybody corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals, and

(b) “director”, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.

The Indian Parliament enacted a special law because the medical community was not self-regulating these serious violations of medical ethics. The practice of sex selection is prohibited while foetal sex determination is regulated.

The PCPNDT Act applies to advertisements and content that advertises sex selection or foetal sex determination  methods/procedures/techniques.  Any form of advertising in India that promotes techniques, products or procedures of sex selection, sex determination is a violation of the law.

In 2008, theSupreme Court of India had served notices to you,  yet  violations of the law continue with impunity and  in response Google had issued a statement saying  “The Google advertising program is managed by a set of policies which we develop based on several factors, including legal requirements and user experience. In India, we do not allow ads for the promotion of prenatal gender determination or preconception sex selection. We take local laws extremely seriously and will review the petition carefully.”

But once again sex selection ads are mushrooming in your search engine in India  and the   continued violation in the Indian Internet space by  your company is  shocking.

Although the google policy when you click here http://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=176072

India

Product Allowed? Details
Dowryrequests  Not allowed Google doesn’t allow ads or landing pages that promote dowry requests or the offering or sale of dowry. “Dowry” means any property or valuable security given by the bride to the groom for marriage.
Doctor, lawyer, or accountant services  Not allowed Google doesn’t allow ads for services offered by doctors, lawyers, or accountants.
Gender or sex selection  Not allowed Google doesn’t allow ads or landing pages that promote the pre-natal determination of the gender of a child, or pre-conception selection of sex.
Infant food, milk substitutes, feeding bottles  Not allowed Google doesn’t allow ads or landing pages that promote or encourage the use of infant food, milk substitutes, or feeding bottles.

When  you  search of gender selection or sex selection on your search engine  you  get a sponsored ad

wherein you can also order the gender selection kit online

I demand you immediately remove gender /sex selection ads from google search engine in India

Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal, for Forum against Sex Selection (FASS) Mumbai

cc 1) Director, PNDT Division, New Delhi

2) Cybercrime cell, Mumbai

 

FASS protests Maharashtra govt’s plans to slap murder charges for sex selection


We, the undersigned women’s organizations, strongly protest the statement made by the Health Minister, Mr Suresh Shetty who wants to recommend to the Central Government the application of section 302 (murder charges) against woman, husband, relatives and the doctors for cases of “sex selection”.

According to the PCPNDT Act, sex selection (the correct legal term) itself is a crime and the doctors involved should be punished as per the provisions under the act. The pregnant woman on whom sex selection is performed or undertaken is not an offender according to the act. This should be upheld in Maharashtra.

We have always demanded the continuous and strict monitoring of sonography centers, hospitals and nursing homes and strict action against all unlicensed centers. Instead of concentrating on this issue and doctors who misuse medical technology, the discussion in the assembly focused on abortions. According to the MTP Act, abortions are a women’s right. We fear that applying section 302 (IPC) would curtail women’s access to safe abortion services.

We demand that the law deals strictly with those who perform the crime of sex selection. The political protection to erring doctors is a serious problem in Maharashtra and the government should take steps to put an end to political interference in implementation of PCPNDT Act.

AIDWA
Akshara
Committed Communities Development Trust Population First
Population first
Stree Mukti Sanghthana

Savitribai Phule Gender Resource Centre
Forum Against Sex Selection

FASS submits Memorandum to the CM Maharashtra regarding actions on sex selection


contact–fassindia2011@gmail.com

 

 

7th  June, 2012

To,
Honourable  Shri. Prithviraj Chavan,

Chief Minister ,Maharashtra  State

Mantralay Mumbai
Subject : Appropriate actions about sex selection.

Respected Sir,

Forum against Sex Selection (FASS) is a network with over 50  Ngo’s and individual members . FASS has conducted interactive workshops to discuss its perspective and plan strategies to take the FASS campaign forward and to understand challenges to implementing the PCPNDT Act. Apart from improving the sex ratio, the main thrust of the FASS campaign is to strengthen the overall position of women in our State and to enable women to live with dignity, in a non-discriminatory environment.

We appreciate your efforts to stop the violations of PCPNDT Act and the brazenness of the doctors conducting sex determination tests and subsequent illegal abortions.

We are deeply concerned & apprehensive of the dwindling sex ratio all over Maharashtra and demand serious attention of the Government in protecting the girl child and all the women related health issues.

As you are aware  the women’s organizations have been trying to draw your attention  to female feticide practices in various districts of Maharashtra, in some districts such as Beed, Parbhani, Kolhapur etc. the sex selection  has reached to disproportionate  heights resulting in alarming discrimination of the girl child. In the light of the heinous crimes being committed against women and the girl child we make following demands and suggestions and request you to give priority to this issue.

a ) We demand that utmost care be taken to implement the PCPNDT Act & punish the guilty persons causing, committing , assisting  ins ex selection  ; however care should be taken to not punish the victim women.

b ) The Government must carefully examine the registration of  sonography machines and the records thereof. The doctors or the hospitals or clinics violating the provisions  of PCPNDT act be brought to the Book &  due legal action be taken immediately.

c ) The medical shops be directed to not to sell drugs & injections related to abortions & contraception without prescription of authorized doctors.

d) Immediate action against erring be taken. The  doctors and clinics whose sonography  machines are once sealed may not be allowed to use the same till their cases are over.

e ) More facilities be made available in Govt. and municipal hospitals for pregnant women including  sonography,  contraceptives, abortions and other medical issues.

f ) The women activists and organizations committed to the cause of prevention of sex selection and reproductive  rights of women be included in the committees under PCPNDT Act.

g ) We demand that under no circumstances the right to abortion as stipulated in the MTP Act be curtailed.

h ) We draw your attention to the recent  directive issued by State Chief Secretary Jayantkumar Banthia dated 4 June 2012 to curb sex selection cases. We demand that proper discussion be made with women activists and organizations before implementing the same.

I) Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1972. Safe abortion within the provisions of the MTP Act is the right of every woman. Access to safe abortion services has remained a challenge in India. An estimated 6.7 million abortions per year are performed in institutions not recognized by the government  India continues to have among the highest maternal mortality rates in the world (254 per 100,000 live births per year). Up to 13% of these are caused by unsafe abortions, which is the third leading cause of maternal deaths

j ) There is also a need to monitor the functioning of Appropriate Authorities and ensure their proper functioning in coordination with  the women organizations working on the issue of gender discrimination.

Limiting access to safe abortion methods only pushes women towards unsafe methods, thereby endangering their health and survival. Monitoring women buying pills from pharmacies is regressive as it undermines the confidentiality aspect of abortion and can lead to harassment of women at the hands of officials. Such regulations are discriminatory and curtail autonomy of women over their own body, right to dignity and right to benefit from advances of science, medicine and technology.

Sex selection is  a phenomenon which emerges from gender discrimination and socio-economic bias. All efforts to prevent  sex selection must seek to address issues of gender discrimination, but not further constrain women’s access to safe abortion services.

We urge the  Government to focus on better implementation of the PCPNDT Act with diligent monitoring and supervision of technologies that have the potential to be misused.

We hope you will pay attention to those very urgent  demands & take appropriate steps.
Yours sincerely,

ForumAgainst Sex Selection (FASS), Mumbai
Core Group members

Dr. Kamakshi Bhate, Savitribai Phule GenderResource Centre (SPGRC)
Dr. A.L. Sharada, Population First
Dr. Nandita Shah, Akshara
Jyoti Mhapsekar, Stree Mukti Sanghatana
Adv Kamayani  Bali Mahabal,  Human Rights  Lawyer and  Activist
Lakshmi Menon, Women Networking
Pramod Nigudkar, Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT)
Sneha Khandekar, SPGRC
Vaijayanti Bagwe, CCDT

Copy to :

Shri. Suresh Shetty
Honorable Minister of Public Health and
Family Welfare
Maharashtra State Government, Mumbai.

Sex determination tests happen not only in India but also in West with sizable Indian population


English: Young women looking at the Bay of Ben...

English: Young women looking at the Bay of Bengal at Puducherry, India Français : Jeunes femmes regardant le golfe du Bengale à Pondichéry, Inde (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 JUN, 2012, SAIRA KURUP,TNN

In mid-April, a reproductive clinic’s ad appeared in a newspaper for the Indo-Canadian community in British Columbia, inviting readers to “create the family you want, boy or girl, for family balancing” with the help of pre-conception sex selection. The two children in the ad wore ethnic Indian clothes.

The newspaper withdrew the ad following public outrage, while the clinic was accused of targeting cultural attitudes that perpetuate discrimination against girls. But the writing was on the wall.

For long, sex selection has been an  issue identified with countries like India and China where the usual rationales given include dowry, patriliny (descent or inheritance by the male line), one-child policy or dependence on kids’ support in old age. But now, studies in Canada, Norway, US and UK show the persistence of this cultural attitude within the diaspora too.

Dr Shiv Pande, a Liverpool-based general practitioner and a former treasurer of the General Medical Council in Britain, says: “As they say, Indians, wherever they go, carry their curry, customs and cultural baggage. Sex selection of the foetus is quite common among British Indians, though not known widely.”

In 2007, two Oxford academics, Sylvie Dubuc and David Coleman, carried out a study of the sex ratio, using the annual birth registrations in England and Wales between 1969 and 2005, and found that there was “indirect quantitative evidence of prenatal sex selection against females performed by a small minority of India-born women in England and Wales”. Interestingly, the study found no such evidence regarding Pakistan-born and Bangladesh-born women living in England and Wales.

Says Sylvie, “Based on numbers from my previous work, I estimated the number of missing baby girls for the period 1990-2005 to be about 1500. Note that these figures relate to immigrant (i.e. India-born ) women only (and not UK-born women of Indian origin).”

In February 2012, an investigation by the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper discovered that some clinics were prepared to carry out such abortions with few, if any, questions asked. Likewise, the British Columbia newspaper ad came just days after a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAG) analyzed 766,688 births in Ontario and found mothers born in South Korea and India were more likely to have boys for their second child.

When it came to having a third child, the male-to-female ratio grew even more skewed for India-born mothers, who had 136 boys for every 100 girls (the world average ratio is 105:100).

Lead researcher of the study and scientist at St Michael’s hospital in Toronto, Joel G Ray, says, “Women from India and South Korea who had previous children were significantly more likely to give birth to males. For India-born women with more than one prior child, the male-female ratios were even more pronounced.”
Ray, however, cautions that “we (or anyone else) do not have direct evidence this is due to foetal sex selection.” But Mahvish Parvez of the Indo-Canadian Women’s Association in Edmonton, says, “There is a strong suggestion that the skewed ratio is due to sex-selective abortion. We know that son preference strongly persists in immigrant communities.”

 

Many western nations have banned sex selection for non-medical purposes – the US is a notable exception. It is a profitable business there, with gender determination technologies easily available, both online and offline, and clients flying in from the UK, Australia and probably India too.

In 2006, two professors from Columbia University, Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund, examined the year 2000 US Census data and found that while more boys than girls are born by a ratio of 1.05 to 1 among families of Chinese, Korean and Indian descent, the ratio increased if the first child was a girl. If the first two children are girls, the ratio was 50% greater in favour of boys.

It’s no surprise to community activists. Maneesha Kelkar, women’s rights activist and former executive director of Manavi, a New Jersey-based organization, remembers taking a call from a woman who said she was sitting on the operating table in an abortion clinic and was being forced to have an abortion.

“She didn’t tell me if the foetus was a girl, or why she was being told to have the abortion. When I asked what was preventing her from walking out, she said, ‘My in-laws are in the waiting room’ .”

Following such alarming reports of immigrant cultural behaviour, US Congressman Trent Franks had introduced a bill to ban sex-selective abortions (the Congress rejected it on Thursday). Kelkar feels the language around the Bill was “extremely anti-immigrant, anti-women”.

It “was going to target the immigrant community and add to the already anti-immigrant feeling in the US. It is unlikely to prevent Indian families from aborting female foetuses. You cannot legislate away a social issue.”

The negative publicity for the Indian community is one reason why some researchers caution against jumping the gun. Prabhat Jha, founding director of the Centre for Global Health Research, Toronto, says, “We need more evidence to confirm what is a suggestive pattern.

The Ontario estimates suggested selective abortion is still uncommon – about 1% of all births to South Asian-born women. Even in India, selective abortion is about 2% of all births. We need to be careful about stigma – do we want the 99% of South Asian families who don’t chose selective abortion in Ontario (if true, and that is not certain) to have a label as such?” He also warns that “we need to be very careful about putting any barriers that prevent women, especially newly migrant women who have low use of health care, from accessing good technologies (like ultrasound).”

The problem is that many immigrants live within their own social enclaves and may face the same social pressures as they would in India. Kelkar says, “I have heard so many women say, “Let my first child be a boy, then I won’t worry about the next.” It’s all about undervaluing the girl child, whether it is Surat, Southall or San Francisco.

(With inputs from Vrushali Haldipur in New York and Ashis Ray in London)

Rajasthan – Sex test: Decoy operation nets lady doctor, agent


Representative image.Representative image.
JAIPUR: A lady doctor and her agent were arrested in Banswara for allegedly involved in sex selection activities on Friday.

Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique(PCPNDT) cell conducted a decoy operation to arrest the doctor and her agent.

PCPNDT cell officials had received information that a diagnostic centre in Banswara is involved in sex selection activities. The PCPNDT cell verified the information. On the basis of information, they conducted a decoy operation to nab the accused.

It was the 58th decoy operation conducted by the PCPNDT cell so far. The officials have also seized a sonography machine along with the documents of the diagnostic centre during the decoy operation.

State’s PCPNDT appropriate authority Navin Jain said that the arrested doctor is Anamika Bhardwaj and her agent is Anila.

According to officials, the sonography machine, which was used for alleged sex selection activity was registered with the health department.

The PCPNDT officials planned the decoy operation as they keep their eyes on the activities of diagnostic centre. In Banswara, the sex ratio has gone down significantly. The health department collected the figures of boys and girls being born in Banswara. They found that there was a significant drop in sex ratio at birth.

Besides, in further investigation, they found that a 60-year-old woman Anila was allegedly actively involved in searching clients for the diagnostic centre for sex selection.

In the decoy operation, the PCPNDT cell officials sent a pregnant woman and one other person as a client for diagnostic centre for conducting sex selection. She demanded Rs 20,000 for sex selection, the PCPNDT officials said.

The agent woman asked the pregnant woman to come on Friday for get the test done. When the pregnant woman passed a signal to PCPNDT cell officials, who were waiting outside for signal, conducted raid at the diagnostic centre and recovered Rs 20,000 from their possession.

Set up mechanism to delete sex determination ads: SC


 

A file photo of women taking a pledge against prenatal sex determination test in Ahmedabad.

‘Order to Internet giants is to make search engines responsive to Indian law

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered three Internet giants — Google, Microsoft and Yahoo — to immediately set up their own in-house expert bodies to keep tabs on and delete online pre-natal sex determination advertisements.

The court said the intent of the order was to make these search engines “responsive to Indian law.”

Section 22 of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act of 1994 prohibits advertisements relating to pre-natal determination of sex and imposes punishment. However, ads continue to appear online, rendering the law toothless.

“Since 2001, this court has expressed its concern with regard to reduction of sex ratio in this country. It has gone to the extent of stating that when there is decrease in sex ratio, it is a disaster signal to the mankind,” a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R. Banumathi referred to the scant regard for the anti-female foeticide law.

Now, the Supreme Court has made the search engines themselves liable for preventing illegal sex determination ads from appearing online. This step is in addition to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s move to set up a nodal agency to receive complaints on violation of Section 22 of the 1994 Act.

In-house experts

The court ordered that the search engines “shall appoint their ‘In-House Expert Body’ which shall take steps to see that if any words or any key words that can be shown on the Internet which has the potentiality to go counter to Section 22 of the 1994 Act, should be deleted forthwith.”

The court observed that the in-house expert body “shall on its own understanding” delete anything that violates the letter and spirit of language of Section 22 of the 1994 Act. In case of doubt, they are free to approach the Ministry’s nodal agency and be guided by the latter.

“The whole problem is that they [search engines] do not have respect for the law of the country,” Justice Misra orally remarked. However, the companies countered the accusation, saying they had always complied with the local laws.

The hindu

Female child population declines in Kerala



  •  Thrissur district is under special scrutiny as the child sex ratio showed an unusual dip from 958 in the 2001 census to 950 in 2011 and continued to dip further.

 

The figures are going down further, triggering doubts that illegal female foeticide and sex determination tests are taking place despite legal restrictions. 

In what could be an indication that sex selection and gender determination are taking place in Kerala despite the restrictions in place, child sex ratio is going down in the state in the past six years. The disturbing trend could threaten Kerala’s envious position with a progressive sex ratio.

 

Child sex ratio in respect of 0-6 age population in Kerala is 959 as per 2011. In rural areas, it is 960, whereas in urban areas is 958. Quoting a survey by Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), Madhyamam reports that the number of girl children is showing in the state in the annual surveys conducted for the ICDS.  The overall sex ratio in the state has gone down by three points (from 964 in 2011 to 961) as per the unofficial documents of the ICDS. The figures are going down further, triggering doubts that illegal female foeticide and sex determination tests are taking place despite legal restrictions.

 

The overall sex ratio in the state has gone down by three points (from 964 in 2011 to 961) as per the unofficial documents of the ICDS.

The central district of Thrissur is under special scrutiny as the child sex ratio showed an unusual dip from 958 in the 2001 census to 950 (the lowest in child sex ratio in the state) in 2011 and continued to dip further.

 

The 2011 census recorded a declining trend in child population as well, showing a negative growth rate of -8.44%. The child population was on the decline in all districts except Malappuram. This trend had raised the curiosity of demographic researchers as it happened despite the state doing well in reducing infant mortality rate (12 deaths in 1000 live births).

 

Though sex ratio was four points higher (964) in 2011 when compared to 2001 (960), the negative decadal change in the sex ration in districts like Thrissur (-8), Idukki (-5) and Alappuzha (-5) had raised concerns.

http://newsable.asianetnews.tv/south/female-child-population-declines-in-kerala

Telangana: After 9-year fight, woman gets Rs 1 lakh for botched IVF


U SUDHAKAR REDDY

The complainant alleged that she was admitted to the test tube baby centre on September 4, 2007 for IVF treatment.
The complaint was filed by V. Nagamani, wife of Uma Venkata Rao, a resident of Khammam town, against Dr Muvva Lakshmi Rajeshwari of the Rohit Test Tube Baby Centre in the town.
The complaint was filed by V. Nagamani, wife of Uma Venkata Rao, a resident of Khammam town, against Dr Muvva Lakshmi Rajeshwari of the Rohit Test Tube Baby Centre in the town.
Hyderabad: The Khammam District Consumer Forum has awarded compensation of Rs 1 lakh to a woman who alleged medical negligence in a case of in-vitro fertilisation that led to her developing a heterotrophic pregnancy (where one foetus develops in the fallopian tube and another in the uterus). The ruling was given after nine years.

The complaint was filed by V. Nagamani, wife of Uma Venkata Rao, a resident of Khammam town, against Dr Muvva Lakshmi Rajeshwari of the Rohit Test Tube Baby Centre in the town.
The complainant alleged that she was admitted to the test tube baby centre on September 4, 2007 for IVF treatment. The doctors told her that she had no capacity to release proper eggs and if she can obtain eggs from a donor, she would have a chance to become pregnant.

The procedure was accordingly done and in time, her pregnancy was confirmed. But one day, she experienced giddiness and was shifted to Rohit Test Tube Centre and after being advised by doctors there, she was shifted to Mamata General Hospital who diagnosed an ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo attaches outside the uterus). Due to the rupture of the fallopian tube, Ms Nagamani began bleeding. After a week the foetus in the uterus was also dead.

The complainant had spent Rs 1.7 lakh on IVF treatment and Rs 25,000 for bills at Mamata Hospital and Rs 30,000 over transportation and other charges. Rohit Test Tube Centre argued before the Forum that the scan report did not reveal that the complainant had a heterotrophic pregnancy, which is very rare, and they were not to blame.

But the Forum said Dr Rajeswari of Rohit Test Tube Centre did not clarify why she did not provide treatment in her hospital, particularly in an emergency. Any failure to render medical help is against ethics of a medical practitioner. The Forum also quoted medical journals as saying that most heterotrophic pregnancies occur as a result of IVF.

Expert speaks
Heterotrophic pregnancy is definitely a rare development. Women with pelvic inflammatory disease also develop it at times. This is one of the associated complications of IVF. When embryo develops in the fallopian tube, it is dangerous to the health of the woman and leads to emergency situation. It is true that it is difficult to diagnose. I don’t think doctors of the test tube centre were negligent in this aspect— Dr B Uma Devi, fertility specialist, and retired professor from Gandhi Hospital.http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/090217/telangana-after-9-year-fight-woman-gets-rs-1-lakh-for-botched-ivf.html

SC allows Mumbai woman to abort 24-week foetus with no kidneys


According to PTI, the apex court relied on Mumbai’s KEM Hospital medical board report saying foetus suffers from disorders and continuation of pregnancy would endanger mother’s life.

kem hospital, supreme court order, sc abortion ruling, mumbai hospital, kem hospital abortion case, king edward memorial hospitalThe Supreme Court. (File Photo)The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a Mumbai woman to abort her 24-week-old foetus that had no kidneys and would most likely die after birth. According to PTI, the apex court relied on Mumbai’s KEM Hospital medical board report stating that the foetus suffered from disorders and continuation of pregnancy would endanger mother’s life. This is the second case this year in which the Supreme Court has intervened to allow an exception under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.

Earlier on Monday, KEM Hospital had submitted its report to the apex court regarding the woman’s case. The court had asked the hospital to give its opinion on the case after diagnosing the petitioner and her foetus.

According to the woman’s petition, she was in her 21st week of pregnancy when the foetal growth anomaly termed as bilateral renal agenesis was diagnosed.The condition means absence or failure of both kidneys in body. This also causes deficiency in amniotic fluid that can cause further malformations in a baby. According to doctors, a baby with this anomaly cannot survive for more than four hours after birth.

Earlier, a 22-year-old Thane woman was allowed to undergo abortion after the Supreme Court observed that the foetus suffered from anencephaly, a life threatening condition in which the skull is not fully developed.http://indianexpress.com/article/india/sc-allows-22-year-old-mumbai-woman-to-terminate-her-24-week-pregnancy-4511855/

India – Family Planning is Certainly Not ‘Women’s Business’


NEW DELHI: Talking about family planning has never been easy. Political parties have for too long shied away from the subject, not wanting to earn the ire of their vote banks. The hangover of the ‘nasbandi’ days continues with vasectomy being seen more as an ill than panacea. Myths and misconceptions thrive and the only way of keeping a check on the population has been by holding sterilisation camps for women and doling out condoms by way of contraceptive choices.

So when the Supreme Court recently gave a historic verdict to ensure sterilisation procedures are conducted in accordance with legal norms, medical procedures and provisions of the manuals, and that those suffering from failure or complications are adequately compensated, it finally stirred up a larger conversation on planning families and women’s reproductive rights.

As someone with decades of activism behind her, Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India (PFI), which has been at the forefront of policy, advocacy, and research on population, believes that the landmark judgment has come at the right time and will be vital in paving the way for a more vigorous, inclusive discussion on advancing sexual and reproductive rights of women and men – with, of course, “the media as a powerful ally”. An interview.

Q: Why is the recent Supreme Court (SC) judgment significant and what does it mean for the family planning programme in India?

A: The judgment has taken the conversation on family planning and women’s rights forward, moving from the narrow prism of numbers to prioritise issues of women’s reproductive health and rights. The verdict underlines the importance of quality of care in provision of family planning services with special reference to sterilisation. It calls for stopping the practice of holding sterilisation camps within a period of three years. It has freed state governments from pushing family planning targets, putting a stop to forced/non-consensual sterilisations. The judgment also recommends improving implementation of family planning programmes by ensuring easy access to empanelled doctors, making information available in local languages and ensuring informed consent of patients.

Q: Why is there is a need to reposition family planning and how should this be done?

A: A major focus of the national programme so far has been on promoting family planning. This has to change, given that the largest group of young people in Indian history is currently in their reproductive years. Even countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal offer at least six contraceptive choices whereas in India we have only female sterlisation at 74.4 per cent followed by condoms at 11.4 per cent, the pill at 7.5 per cent and IUD (Intra Uterine Device) at 3.7 per cent. Not only must we provide more options to the youth but also put as much emphasis on repositioning family planning and maternal and child health policies and programmes within the women’s empowerment and human rights framework. From promoting ‘population control’ approaches as a solution to stabilise population, we must look at providing services.

Q: Deep rooted myths surround the issue of family planning, including the notion that certain religions want their women to be baby producing machines.

A: It is unfortunate that women’s bodies and their fertility become objects that fuel fires of communalisation. Improvement in fertility/decline in population is dependent on education, income and employment opportunities and not on religion. Declining trend in population growth is secular. The sex ratio among Muslims as per Census 2011 stands at 951 females for every 1000 men which is significantly better than 939 among Hindus. Further, it shows marked improvement from 936 in 2001 to 951 in 2011 among Muslims whereas for Hindus it shows marginal improvement from 931 in 2001 to 939 in 2011. It is a proven fact that female education, employment opportunities and access to bigger basket of contraceptive choices help women make the right choice. Contrary to popular belief, women, across the board, want a smaller family.


Q: In the context of family planning, what have been the biggest missed opportunities post-Independence?

A: Not addressing the unmet need and robbing millions of women the choices for contraception is a huge missed opportunity. This has forced young women to opt for abortions, many of them unsafe. In the absence of counselling and open discussion, they are using emergency contraceptive pills as a family planning method. According to national data, the unmet need for family planning is a staggering 32 million. More than six lakh abortions were recorded in 2013-14, majority of which resulted from lack of access to contraceptives. The focus clearly must be on creating awareness, making services available, expanding the basket of choices, ensuring quality of care and increasing family planning budgets.

Q: If awareness building is a key aspect, how do you think media can contribute to mobilising support and initiating sustained action to enhance reproductive and sexual rights of women?

A: Media is a vital ally and partner to all of us working to improve access to sexual and reproductive health rights for youth and adolescents. It plays a crucial role in bringing issues around family planning to the attention of policy-makers and influencers. However, so far, coverage around stories on family planning remains negligible. PFI recently conducted a media consultation in Delhi in an attempt to initiate a robust debate on family planning, women’s health and reproductive rights. We wish to see family planning become part of the mainstream media narrative. PFI has worked with media to generate evidence-based coverage on family planning and reproductive health. Our behaviour change communication initiative, Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon, addresses social determinants of health and has deep outreach and impact. Media can help in positioning family planning not as a women’s issue or men’s issue but as a people’s issue. Highlighting negative events through sensational headlines and photos that shock and awe are important but so is following up with those stories and tracking what happened to those featured in them. This would help put pressure on the government and related agencies to act and take responsibility. Media can also contribute greatly to the initiation of dialogue and debate around positive decisions that have the potential to impact demographic trends and quality of life. So far, there has, in fact, been a narrative to demonise family planning. It is time to create champions and join hands in ensuring women are educated, men and boys are part of the discussion and women’s sexual and reproductive rights are protected.


Q: Why is involving men so important in something traditionally viewed as “women’s business”?

A: Our experience has been that if you reach out to men, they will be responsive. They treat women’s reproductive health as a “woman’s issue” because that’s the belief that has been perpetuated widely. It is necessary to involve them in family planning. There should be an emphasis on changing mindsets and stereotypes so as to enable women to take decisions regarding their own health and increasing spousal communication. There remain myths and misconceptions around vasectomy, including baseless speculation on loss of virility. Men must be encouraged to accept vasectomy as a family planning method. At the same time, male engagement should not be confined to vasectomy alone but extend to their involvement in decisions related to the education of their daughters, choosing the best contraception available, spacing and age of pregnancy.

Q: What are the strategies for the future?

A: We need to be vigilant and monitor on-ground implementation of the SC directives. Having said that, we need to continue supporting the government and reviewing adherence to quality guidelines in implementing the injectable roll-out and generating evidence through research on contraceptive options of Progestin Only Pill and Centchroman. This will enhance the basket of contraceptive choices for women and young people.

(Women’s Feature Service)

Lancet- Rules push women to unsafe abortion options


Representative imageRepresentative image
MUMBAI: A paper published in Lancet medical journal last May had shown that criminalizing abortion does not prevent it but rather pushes women towards unsafe options. Several studies have estimated that of 6.5 million abortions that take place in India annually, a staggering 57% could be unsafe.

The highlight of the paper, based on figures from the US-based Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organisation (WHO), was that abortion rates in developed countries fell significantly from 46 per 1,000 in 1990-94 to 27 in 2010-14. Developing nations, however, only registered a 2-point fall. Some 25% of 56.3 million pregnancies ended in abortion in 2010-14.

Interestingly, the study also showed that abortion rates were not very different in countries where it was completely illegal (37 per 1,000 women) to where it was available on request (34), suggesting that criminalizing abortions was detrimental to women’s health. Globally, 73% of abortions were obtained by married women compared with 27% by unmarried women in 2010-14.

“Around 8% of maternal deaths in India are attributable to unsafe abortions. There are two main reasons behind unsafe abortions in the country— one is the MTP law itself that has a stringent cut-off time and the another is lack of qualified obstetricians and gynaecologists in rural parts of the country,” said Dr Vinoj Manning, country director of Ipas, a non-profit body that works towards women’s reproductive rights.

In 1971, when the MTP Act was passed, medically induced abortions were unheard of. In this non-surgical approach, a pill or an injection is used to induce labour and deliver the foetus. “Today, it is the most preferred and the safest method, yet women have to go to quacks because the law itself is a hurdle. No qualified gynaecologist would perform an abortion after 20 weeks even if the reasons are compelling,” said a senior gynaecologist from a public hospital. A woman in India dies every two hours due to unsafe abortions. The doctor said it only pointed towards a grave unmet need for contraception and access to safe abortion.

The medical fraternity believes there is an urgent need to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, which restricts a woman from terminating pregnancy after 20 weeks. The proposed law that changes this and allows women the right to abort till 24 weeks in exceptional situations is awaiting Parliament’s approval for nearly two years.

Gynaecologist Dr Nikhil Datar said morbidities related to unsafe abortions is a serious area that is seldom talked about. Gynaecologist Dr Sangeeta Pikale said unsafe abortions could be curbed by picking foetal anomalies within the 20-week deadline if women undergo tests on time, in good centres.

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