Illegal’ abortion brings back focus on sex determination


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On Friday, Tumakuru woman died of complications following procedure

The death of a 25-year-old woman in Koratagere of Tumakuru district, following complications after an ‘illegal’ abortion, has again brought into focus the rampant sex determination in rural and urban areas, and it came up for an extended discussion in the Legislature session.

Radhamani, mother of three girls and wife of a photo-frame repairer, died late on Friday night at Vani Vilas Hospital in Bengaluru where she was admitted after she developed complications following the ‘illegal’ abortion.

In the Legislative Council on Monday, Health Minister K.R. Ramesh Kumar said that a detailed investigation would be carried out and action would be initiated against the guilty.

Replying to JD(S) member T.A. Saravana, who referred to reports that sex determination could have forced the woman to terminate the pregnancy, the Minister said that initial reports pointed out that the act was done following the advice of a doctor.

He clarified that of the 4,398 scanning centres in the State, 193 were being run by the government.

According to his written reply, three cases, two in Bengaluru and one in Vijayapura, have been reported in the past three years and a probe is under way.

From 2002 to February 2017, 76 cases have been registered against scanning centres in Karnataka and 37 are still pending for disposal.

The cases have been registered under the Pre-Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 for scanning to determine the gender of the unborn child.

Mr. Ramesh Kumar admitted that committees had been formed at both district and taluk levels to monitor these diagnostic centres, but he was unhappy with their functioning.

Meanwhile, experts working on the issue said that the Koratagere case is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Given the family background and the woman’s history, this appears to be a case of sex selective abortion. Sex determination is rampant both in rural and urban Karnataka,” said Sabu George, a campaigner against sex selective abortions. K. Vimala, from Janawadi Mahila Sangathane, said that although the Health Department claimed that the PC and PNDT district and State advisory committees (whose role is crucial in implementing the Act) have been formed, nothing is being done to check the illegal practice.

She feared she would give birth to another girl’

A suspected illegal abortion attempt at the house of a retired nurse at Koratagere in Tumakuru district turned fatal with a 25-year-old woman dying owing to complications.

Radhamani, mother of three girls, died late on Friday night at Vani Vilas Hospital in Bengaluru, but the incident came to light only on Sunday, with the police and district health officers intensifying their investigation into the suspected abortion.

Radhamani allegedly wanted to abort the four-and-a-half month-old foetus “out of fear” that she would give birth to another girl, said family members.

The Koratagere police, who have questioned family members, say that there was immense pressure on Radhamani to “deliver a boy”.

Radhamani’s husband, Ramaiah, works as a photo frame repairer and the couple resided at Kamarajanahalli in Koratagere taluk. Manjunath, a close relative of the victim, told The Hindu that Radhamani had undergone ultrasound a few days ago and doctors had only said that the baby was healthy. Family members insist that the sex of the foetus, which is illegal under Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, was not determined. However, Radhamani harbouring a strong suspicion that she was carrying a girl, decided to abort the foetus, the relative said.

On March 21, she got admitted to the taluk government hospital for abortion, but it was not carried out there. She then approached her relative, Manjula, a retired nurse, who convinced her to do the procedure at her home, Ramaiah said. The procedure, carried out painfully over two days, led to severe bleeding. She was eventually admitted to Vani Vilas Hospital, where she died.

On Sunday, several relatives gathered outside Manjula’s house, but she is said to be absconding.

Meanwhile, the Koratgere police have registered a complaint of unnatural death as the parents of the deceased have refused to file a complaint despite repeated requests.

Health Dept. to initiate inquiry

The case clearly points to illegal abortion being conducted and the Health department will initiate an inquiry, said District Health Officer, Rangaswamy. Sources in the department said that a sex determination test could have been conducted, leading to the dangerous abortion attempt at nearly 4.5 months of pregnancy.

Radhamani had not disclosed about her pregnancy to the local ASHA or ANM worker under the Reproductive and Child Health Programme, which takes care of pregnant women.

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