Ignorance about abortion being legal adds to maternal mortality rate



PATNA: Only 25% of Bihari women know that abortion is legally valid. According to a survey, around 5.8 lakh induced abortions are conducted in Bihar every year, majority of which are performed outside the recognized government centres. This contributes significantly to maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the state, which currently stands at 261/10,000, much higher than the national average of 212.

Several factors contribute to the state women opting for abortion outside the accredited abortion centres. They include absence of competent health professionals in rural areas and high abortion cost at big hospitals in the cities.

There is an urgent need to check unsafe abortions, with provision of safe abortion at affordable price, said health secretary Sanjay Kumar. He said the first step towards this is to make both the women and the community at large aware about the legality of abortions.

He said the state government has already initiated measures in this regard by granting accreditation to private hospitals which, during the first three months of conception, provide free abortion as well as redressing complexities arising post-abortion. This would help in more and more such centres coming forward for providing safe abortion and enhancing the services offered by them, Kumar said, adding the move would also help in containing the cost of abortion. Kumar said till January this year, 124 health institutes have applied for being attached to this scheme. Three such centres have already been given accreditation, he added.

The state health department has identified 16 priority areas to streamline health scenario in the state and bring down the MMR below the national average in the next five years. Incidentally, to reduce MMR, which is alarmingly high in the state, the state government had declared 2011 as ‘Safe Motherhood Year’.

To bring down the MMR, the government has taken measures like increasing institutional deliveries (IDs), appointment of women health workers such as Mamta in government hospitals across the state for better care of mother and child, and launching of ‘Yukti Yojana’ for providing accreditation to private institutions to provide proper facilities for monitoring of pregnancy and ensuring safe delivery, said Kumar.

He said during the last five years, the state has registered phenomenal increase in IDs, as 13.83 lakh IDs were performed at government hospitals in 2010-11, against a meagre 1.17 lakh in 2004-05. However, only around 40% of women in the age group of 15-34 still go for institutional delivery in Bihar

FASS-  Besides matremal mortality, the issue of sex selection and dwindling child sex ratio cannot be dealt without also talking about legallity of abortion under certain conditions.

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