Sex Ratio At Birth Deteriorated Most In Gujarat: NITI Aayog


Sex ratio at birth dips in 17 of 21 large states, Gujarat records 53 points fall 

Between 2012-14 and 2013-15, the sex ratio at birth fell by 53 points in Gujarat, finds the NITI Aayog health index report.
Gender Inequality

Never mind the much-mythologised “Gujarat model” of development — the state has seen the sharpest decline in the sex ratio at birth (SRB) in the country, according to the NITI Aayog’s health index report “Healthy States, Progressive India ”.

The report not only ranks 21 large states on the overall health performance, but also records the state-wise performance of the states on individual health indicators.

The sex ratio at birth — or the number of girls born for every 1000 boys during a specific year — was recorded for the period between 2012-14 (base year) and 2013-15 (reference year).

The SRB “is an important indicator and reflects the extent to which there is reduction in the number of girl children born by sex-selective abortions,” as the report says.

Gujarat topped the ‘most deteriorated’ category — states that had the most alarming decrease in the SRB. In Gujarat, the sex ratio at birth fell from 907 to 854, a fall of 53 points.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 6.47.00 PM.png

This was followed by Haryana, where the SRB fell from 866 to 831, a fall of 35 points. Rajasthan came in third with a fall of 32 points, from 893 to 861. Next was Uttarakhand, where the SRB fell from 871 to 844, a fall of 27 points.

In fact, 17 out of the 21 states recorded saw a dip in the sex ratio at birth — painting a grim picture of gender justice the country.

Only three states saw an improvement — with Punjab having the most improved sex ratio at birth, from 870 to 889, an improvement of 19 points.

Uttar Pradesh saw an increase of 10 points, from 869 to 879, while Bihar saw an improvement of 9 points, from 907 to 916. In Jammu & Kashmir, the SRB remained stagnant at 899.

Kerala continues to have the highest SRB, even though it saw a fall of 7 points, from 974 to 967, followed by Chhattisgarh that saw a decline of 12 points from 973 to 961.

“There is a clear need for States to effectively implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 and take appropriate measures to promote the value of the girl child,” the report notes further.

Gujarat’s performance for one, however, should not be surprising.

A 2014 report of India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for 2009-2014 showed what a mess the Gujarat government had made of implementing the PCPNDT Act.

The state also has the sixth worst child sex ratio for the 0-6 age group, with only 883 girls for every 1000 boys, as against an average of 927 for the country, according to the 2011 Census.

“The NITI Aayog report is more evidence that the so-called ‘Gujarat Model of development’ has led to an increase in inequity; in this case, gender inequity,” said Dr Amit Sengupta of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan to Newsclick. 

The report also shows that economic prosperity does not necessarily translate into social progressiveness, as evident from the fact that states like Punjab and Haryana, despite having a higher per capita income, have a worse sex ratio than Bihar, for example.

Sengupta agrees, “The results prove once again that social backwardness and poverty are not directly related. Gender justice does not come automatically with economic prosperity.”

Advertisements

WHO Claims Women Are Being Pushed Into Unnecessary C-Sections As Doctors Feel Normal Delivery Takes More Time


Caesarean section, also known as C-section or caesarean delivery, is the use of surgery to deliver one or more babies and is now rampant in India. The World Health Organisation has accused hospitals of forcing women to have a C-section surgery instead of a normal vaginal delivery.

D

REUTERS

The UN agency has also issued new guidance for childbirth which lays emphasis on the timescale over which normal labour should happen. WHO warning says that increasing medicalisation of childbirth has meant unnecessary interventions have become rampant in many nations, usually, because doctors think women take too long to give birth.

The older guidelines date back the 1950s and suggest that a normal birth should be expected to progress at a set pace which is roughly 1 cm dilation every hour. However, the mounting evidence indicates that childbirth takes far longer than older belief.

P

REUTERS

The WHO said women are being forced into having procedures which are unnecessary because doctors and midwives think takes too long. The new advice says that slow progress alone should not be seen as a reason to go for intervention. The medical officer in WHO’s department of reproductive health and research Dr Olufemi Oladapo said ‘What has been happening over the last two decades is that we are having more and more interventions being applied unnecessarily to women.”

The doctor further added, “Things like caesarean sections, using a drug called oxytocin to speed up labour is becoming very rampant in several areas of the world.”

https://www.indiatimes.com/news/who-claims-women-are-being-pushed-into-unnecessary-c-sections-as-doctors-feel-normal-delivery-takes-more-time-339967.html

India – 21 million parents did not want daughters – first national data


The number has been arrived at by looking at the sex ratio of the last child (SRLC) which is heavily male-skewed, indicating that parents keep having children until they get the desired number of sons.

by Shalini Nair | New Delhi | Updated: January 30, 2018 5:35 pm

sex ratio, unwanted girls, srlc, sex ratio of last child, male child preferance, daughters, sex selection, female feoticide, indian expressThe number has been arrived at by looking at the sex ratio of the last child (SRLC) which is heavily male-skewed, indicating that parents keep having children until they get the desired number of sons. (AP Photo/Representational)

The Economic Survey presents the first ever estimate of the number of ‘unwanted’ girls in India — girls whose parents wanted a boy but had a girl instead — at 21 million. The number has been arrived at by looking at the sex ratio of the last child (SRLC) which is heavily male-skewed, indicating that parents keep having children until they get the desired number of sons.

The Survey points out that the huge number of ‘unwanted girls’ (in the 0-25 age group in the population currently) is a direct outcome of the ‘son meta preference’ where parents do not stop having children after having a daughter.

The idea is based on a bunch of papers published in 2017 by development economist Seema Jayachandran of Northwestern University. While the ‘son meta preference’ does not lead to sex-selective abortion, the Survey 21 million is the number of girls parents did not want: first such national data sums up Jayachandran’s paper to state that it is “detrimental to female children because it may lead to fewer resources devoted to them”.

Read | Thrust areas: Economic convergence, gender inequality, climate change

The biologically determined natural sex ratio at birth is 1.05 boy for every girl. The Survey points out that in India, the sex ratio of the last child is skewed towards male all throughout — for first-born, it is 1.82, 1.55 for second born, 1.65 for third child and so on.

sex ratio, unwanted girls, srlc, sex ratio of last child, male child preferance, daughters, sex selection, female feoticide, indian express

 

The report compares India’s heavily-skewed-in-favour-of-boys SRLC to that of Indonesia, where the sex ratio at birth is close to the biological ideal, irrespective of whether the last child is a boy or a girl.

The estimate on the notionally “unwanted girls” goes beyond the Amartya Sen framework of “missing women” (owing to sex selective abortion or girl children who die owing to deliberate neglect). Using Sen’s methodology of sex ratio difference, as devised in 1990, the Survey pegs the number of “missing women” as of 2014 at 63 million, an increase from the 37 million as per Sen’s estimate.

The sex ratio of last birth (females per hundred births) has merely changed from 39.5 per cent to 39 per cent between 2005-06 and 2015-16. It is among two of the 17 gender indicators used in the Survey that fails to show any decadal improvement with an increase in wealth — the other being the effect on women’s employment.

 

Between 2005-06 and 2015-16, the proportion of women who took up paid work has gone down from 36 per cent to 24 per cent, making India a glaring outlier in this respect. One of the main reasons for this continues to be the disproportionate burden of unpaid care work that falls on women, including looking after elders and children.

The Survey points out that following the implementation of Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act, 1994, which outlawed sex selection, India has seen a relatively stable sex ratio at birth (SRB). The SRLC, as an indicator, points to the continued societal preferences for a male child.

The Survey looks at both SRB and SRLC to state that in Meghalaya, both indicators are close to the ideal benchmark. Likewise, Kerala does not seem to practise sex selective abortions as their SRB is close to the ideal benchmark but the son preference is evident in a skewed SRLC, while Punjab and Haryana, two of the richest states, have a highly skewed SRB and SRLC.

Using data from the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) and National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the Survey states that over the last 10-15 years, India’s performance has improved on 14 out of 17 indicators of women’s agency, attitudes, and outcomes.

21 million is the number of girls parents did not want: first such national data

Abortion: It’s every woman’s right to choose


According to the latest estimates published in the December issue of The Lancet, in 2015, a staggering 15.6 million abortions occurred in India. Of these 15.6 million abortions, 73% were sought outside health facilities. While unsafe abortions in the country have reduced significantly, about eight lakh women still resort to unsafe means to end an unwanted pregnancy.

Police officers drive their bicycles past a mural art by Brazilian artist Carlos Bobi in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, January 3, 2018. According to Bobi, the mural represents a special moment of his ex-wife's pregnancy. As in many countries, abortion is a subject of taboo in Brazil
Police officers drive their bicycles past a mural art by Brazilian artist Carlos Bobi in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, January 3, 2018. According to Bobi, the mural represents a special moment of his ex-wife’s pregnancy. As in many countries, abortion is a subject of taboo in Brazil(AP)

Last year, in what is considered a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that individual privacy is a “guaranteed fundamental right”. The nine-judge bench ruled that the right to privacy is comprised in the right to life and liberty guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution. This judgment will have significant implications for the protection of citizens’ personal freedom against intrusions by the State. While the furore about privacy and its breach began with the linking of Aadhaar numbers with various programmes, the judgment addressed several other issues that the bench believed came under the ambit of privacy. Recognising a woman’s prerogative to make decisions about her health and body, the bench ruled that “there is no doubt that a woman’s right to make reproductive choices is also a dimension of ‘personal liberty’ as guaranteed under Article 21. It is important to recognise that reproductive choices can be exercised to procreate as well as to abstain from procreating.” The judgment further states that “a woman’s freedom of choice whether to bear a child or abort her pregnancy are areas which fall in the realm of privacy.”

An extremely progressive and far-reaching judgment, the Supreme Court’s ruling is commendable given the realities on the ground where women are often denied the right to make decisions about their reproductive health. Abortion – a key reproductive choice – is not a right in India. A woman cannot walk into a health facility and demand an abortion with no questions asked. In fact, abortion is provided to her solely at the discretion of the medical provider under certain conditions defined by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, which include substantial risk to the woman’s life or to her physical or mental health, substantial risk to the life of the foetus, pregnancies resulting from contraceptive failure in case of married women, and pregnancies resulting from rape.

Moreover, if a woman wants to terminate her pregnancy in the first trimester, the law requires that she get the consent of one medical practitioner. For terminating a pregnancy second trimester onwards, she needs the consent of two medical practitioners. This is particularly difficult for a woman in remote locations where it can often be challenging to find even one medical practitioner.

Additionally, women in India still experience provider bias, especially if they are unmarried and seek an abortion. Contrary to the provisions of the MTP Act, many providers also continue to ask for the husband’s consent before performing an abortion, thus undermining a woman’s choice to make that decision herself.

According to the latest estimates published in the December issue of The Lancet, in 2015, a staggering 15.6 million abortions occurred in India. Of these 15.6 million abortions, 73% were sought outside health facilities. While unsafe abortions in the country have reduced significantly, about eight lakh women still resort to unsafe means to end an unwanted pregnancy.

In light of the judgment on privacy, a multi-pronged approach needs to be adopted to ensure that no woman resorts to unsafe means and methods to terminate a pregnancy because she is unable to access safe abortion services. At the policy level, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, must be amended to allow women to receive abortion on request, which, in turn, could increase access to safe abortion care.

This should simultaneously be supported by efforts to build awareness and educate women and the community on their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including their right to access safe abortion care. More importantly, we must sensitise our healthcare providers and implementers of the law to recognise a woman’s right to reproductive choice, privacy and dignity and to provide services free of bias and judgment.

While the right to privacy is not absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions, it is nonetheless a fundamental right, not a statutory or a common law right. The State should take steps to ensure that a woman’s right to reproductive choices is mainstreamed and embedded in the public health agenda. They must urgently reassess and amend the laws that impact sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in India, especially the MTP Act.

If a woman so chooses to, she should be able to access abortion on request at any point within the legal gestation limit.

It must be ensured that SRH services and policies, including those for abortion, are designed in a manner that takes into account a woman’s reproductive choice, protects her privacy and dignity and enables her to lead a full and productive life.

Soli Sorabjee, Former Attorney General of India

 

Bombay HC allows woman to abort 27-week foetus with abnormalities


India’s Medical Termination of the Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, permits pregnancies to be terminated up to 20 weeks, but courts make exceptions keeping in mind woman’s physical health.

Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
The Bombay High Court ruling, by a division bench of Justice RM Borde and Justice Rajesh Ketkar, was not made on exceptional grounds but on a very liberal interpretation of the law.
The Bombay High Court ruling, by a division bench of Justice RM Borde and Justice Rajesh Ketkar, was not made on exceptional grounds but on a very liberal interpretation of the law.(HT File Photo)

In a liberal and progressive interpretation of the Medical termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday allowed a woman to terminate her 27-week pregnancy, taking into consideration the physical and mental trauma she would suffer if the child was born with severe abnormalities.

The foetus she is carrying has severe abnormalities.

India’s Medical Termination of the Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, permits pregnancies to be terminated up to 20 weeks, but courts make exceptions beyond 20 weeks after a board of doctors confirms continuing the pregnancy is a risk to the woman’s physical health. In this case, the board that examined the woman said there was no risk to her life.

That put the high court bench in a bind. It could have allowed a termination under two conditions: under Section 5 of the law to save the woman’s life (irrespective of the pregnancy duration) or under Section 3(2), if the pregnancy is not more than 20 weeks old, if it poses grave injury to the woman’s physical or mental health, if there are chances of the baby being handicapped, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or contraceptive failure.

To be sure, there have been instances of courts permitting termination of pregnancies that are older, but these have been exceptions.

The Bombay High Court ruling, by a division bench of Justice RM Borde and Justice Rajesh Ketkar, was not made on exceptional grounds but on a very liberal interpretation of the law. The bench said Sections 3 and 5 were required to be construed harmoniously with the object of the enactment.

“If conditions laid down in sub-Section 2(b) of Section 3 of the (MTP) Act are fulfilled, it would provide good ground for exercise of Section 5 of the Act,” said the bench.

Specifically, the bench took note that Section 5 of the law uses words specifically excluding the limitation set out by Section 3 and that, therefore, the emergency clause in Section 5 could be invoked irrespective of the length of the pregnancy.

Besides, it said, the construction would also be in tune with the proposed amendment to the MTP Act, which seeks to extend by four weeks the limit of 20 weeks set out in Section 3.

The MTP (Amendment) Bill 2014 proposes to relax the upper limit of legal abortion from 20 to 24 weeks and make access easier by widening the provider base by training auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), nurses, and AYUSH practitioners to terminate early-stage non-surgical pregnancies; introduce a confidentiality cause; and remove the need for a doctor’s second opinion for second-trimester pregnancies.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/bombay-hc-allows-woman-to-abort-27-week-foetus-with-abnormalities/

What’s wrong with India’s abortion laws?


GenderAnd Development: The tricky debate on Abortion: Where the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act conflicts with two other laws?

Nandini Rathi

 

This August, the denial of abortion to the 10-year-old rape survivor from Chandigarh by the Supreme Court made headlines, shocking the country and leaving the medical community split in opinion. While the young girl has been recuperating at home from her C-section delivery and from what could only have been mental and physical trauma, the onslaught of women and girls seeking permissions for late-term abortion to High Courts and the Supreme Court continues. On November 22, PTI reported that a 12-year old rape survivor from Khargone, Madhya Pradesh gave birth under C-section after her abortion plea was rejected by the High Court, citing her age and risk, earlier in September. This little girl’s pregnancy had been first discovered more than three months ago in August. While it was then just over 20 weeks, following the letter of law, abortion had been treated a foregone option and denied.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971 permits abortions after consultation with one doctor up to 12 weeks. Between 12 to 20 weeks, medical opinion of two doctors is required. Further, only a registered allopathic physician in a registered facility is authorised to conduct the procedure. Beyond the 20 weeks ceiling, exceptions are legally permissible only if continuation of pregnancy poses a threat to the mother’s life.

The 46-year-old law has been under fire from doctors and lawyers for failing to move ahead with the times. There are several issues. The gestational age limit of 20 weeks on abortions is today understood as arbitrary and grossly outdated by gynaecologists and obstetricians across the board. Rare foetal abnormalities can be detected via ultrasound only around this period and the mother is usually past the 20-week milestone by the time these can be confirmed. Further, the Act does not recognise a woman’s choice in asking for an abortion, as legally she remains at the disposal of a physician’s judgment even in the early stages of pregnancy.

THE INFLUX OF COURT PETITIONS 

While MTP Act itself does not direct anyone to approach the court for permission to terminate pregnancy post-20 weeks, the recent few years have seen a rush of court petitions seeking permission for abortion. Often these have been either rape survivors with unwanted pregnancies or couples who found out about foetal abnormalities that are either incompatible with survival or posed the risk of substantial handicap to the baby upon birth. The curious aspect is why these cases are suddenly coming to court with increasing frequency only now, despite the fact that the MTP law is unchanged, and issues of foetal abnormalities as well as rape-related unwanted pregnancies in minors are something doctors have always dealt with in professional capacity.

“If you ask any obstetrician in this country who has practised for 10-20 years, you will find that they have always terminated pregnancies of advanced [post 20 weeks] durations on obstetric and medical grounds,” says Dr. Nozer Sheriar, former Chairperson of the MTP Committee and secretary general at Federation of Gynaecologists and Obstetrician Societies of India (FOGSI).

Advance prenatal diagnoses, which enable foetal abnormalities to be discovered typically between 20-24 weeks, became routine around two decades ago. Managing the aftermath was not considered by most gynaecologists as traditional MTPs. Until a few years ago, most gynaecologists all over the country were managing abnormal patient pregnancies, along with termination if needed by taking a medical call over the matter, after counselling the patient and with her written permission.

The gynaecologist/obstetrician of the patient maybe in the best position to make a medical decision based on risk, in some cases. But the Supreme Court and High Court judgments over the last few years have been inconsistent and ad-hoc on these matters; they have both permitted as well as turned down various women requesting abortions and hence now doctors are unsure about their decision-making territory. “Because of all these cases coming up, physicians are also confused as to whether to term them as MTPs or obstetric decisions. I think clarity is urgently needed in this matter,” says Dr. Jaydeep Tank, a Mumbai-based gynaecologist and obstetrician and Deputy Secretary General of FOGSI. He personally feels that such cases should not strictly fall under the MTP Act as they could interfere with the obstetrician’s decision making.

ABORTION LAW, ITS RUN-IN WITH POCSO

A pregnant minor, under the MTP Act, can legally receive an abortion with the consent of a legal guardian. Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, any sexual activity under the age of 18, even if consensual, comes under the scrutiny of law. Thus, if any adolescent goes to a doctor seeking any services related to reproductive health, including abortion, the doctor is mandatorily required to report that to the authorities. So while MTP Act regulations lay down a careful confidentiality procedure for the doctor to protect the identity of the abortion-seeking girl, POCSO on the other hand necessitates disclosure to the authorities. “A lot of 17-year-olds, who would have gone to a doctor because that would have been the right way to get an abortion, suddenly now think ‘if I go to the doctor, the police will be informed. So maybe I am better off somewhere else’,” Dr. Sheriar explains.

The situation has became more dire, after the Supreme Court last month got rid of the exception for child brides and increased the age of consent to 18, regardless of marital status. While the intention behind the POCSO provision is well meaning, an estimated 47 percent of women in India are still married under the age of 18 and hence considerable sexual activity does take place among minors. The conflict between the laws results in a collateral damage where adolescents may be forced to turn to unsafe abortions.

ABORTION LAW AND SEX DETERMINATION

Another law that trips doctors from performing genuine abortions is the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act of 1994 (PC-PNDT) which criminalises sex determination of the foetus during ultrasound. Often, law-enforcing authorities feel that if they indiscriminately crackdown on abortions in general, they will be able to prevent sex-selective ones and female foeticide, Dr. Tank explains.

With a lot of attention and pressure from authorities due to PC-PNDT, doctors are wary and not doing what they initially did with a clear conscience, says Dr. Sheriar. As one senior gynaecologist running a private hospital said, “Even though I have performed an abortion for a genuine reason, in case the aborted foetus turns out to be a female, who would want to get caught up in a cycle of giving explanations in government offices” or worse, risk having their establishment discredited over such an accusation.

Given the present circumstances, doctors feel that urgent clarifications are required on the matter because when providers of safe and legal abortions turn women away, the remaining gap is filled by unqualified persons and quacks. “Just because of a fear of misuse, creating no mechanism and giving no relief to genuine people is wrong,” says gynaecologist and health rights activist Dr. Nikhil Datar.

Only a handful of women–make it to the courts, where they currently face additional trauma due to delays of legal proceedings, all the while with a pregnancy that is steadily advancing. Asked what happens to all the other women and where they go, Dr. Datar says, “No one knows”.

IN COLD STORAGE: MTP ACT OF 2014

A historic abortion legislation like India’s MTP Act in the 70s ensured that only law and medical opinion, as opposed to any religious dogma, prevailed in matters of pregnancy terminations. It also necessitated the consent of the pregnant woman alone, assuming she was a major. But a progressive law alone did not guarantee access to safe abortions. 10 women die everyday in India due to unsafe abortions and many more suffer from complications as a result of it.

“The cases that have come to the courts and in the spotlight of media are in the direction of foetal abnormalities and rape pregnancies. But that is a very small percentage out of all women deprived of safe abortions,” says Vinoj Manning, Executive Director of Delhi based non-profit Ipas Development Foundation. Currently, 50 percent of all abortions performed in India are estimated to put women’s health and lives to undue risk and that is above all due to an acute shortage of trained providers. This is one of the issues that the MTP Act Amendment bill, proposed in 2014, aimed to solve by authorizing AYUSH doctors, trained nurses and auxiliary nurse-midwives (ANMs) – after mandatory training — for performing non-surgical abortions via pills. The bill is however in cold storage and not taken up by the parliament since October 2014.

In addition to the fact that a woman’s right to abortion is a necessary condition for her reproductive autonomy, there is also a dire need to keep the woman’s needs at the center from a public health perspective. As Dr. Suneeta Mittal, Director and HOD in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Fortis Medical Research Institute Gurgaon, who has worked in women’s healthcare for nearly 40 years, said in a recent panel discussion, “No legal barrier, no religious barrier, no administrative barrier and no political barrier can stop a woman from getting an abortion, if she decides not to continue [her pregnancy]. By refusing her, you are pushing her towards unsafe abortions”.

SOURCE-  Indian Express

1.6 crore abortions a year in India, 81% at home: Study


Malathy Iyer| TNN | U

MUMBAI: A total of 15.6 million (1.56 crore) abortions took place across India in 2015, against the 7 lakh figure the Centre has been putting out every year for the last 15 years, according to a research paper published in The Lancet Global Healthmedical journal on Monday.

Not only do a lot more Indian women than previously thought undergo abortions every year, an overwhelming number — 81% — take medicines at home instead of going to hospitals, the study has said.

“The government figure talked of surgical abortions carried out in its own hospitals. The private sector was not counted, nor were medical abortions,” said the main author, Dr Chandra Shekhar of International Institute of Population Sciences in Mumbai.

Overall, 12.7 million (81%) abortions were medication abortions, 2.2 million (14%) were surgical, and 0.8 million (5%) were through other methods, probably unsafe. Medical abortions using mifepristone and mifepristone-misoprostol combipacks need a doctor’s prescription.

Doctors whom TOI spoke to said the revised number of abortions caried out in India wasn’t asurprise. “Smaller studies done previously in Mumbai and Chennai indicated abortions were higher than thought,” said a doctor with a government hospital. “Sale of medicines for abortion also gave us an indication,” said gynecologist Dr Nozer Sheriar, who was a part of the study.

The new study also estimated that half of the total 48.1 million pregnancies in India in 2015 were unintended. “Abortions accounted for one-third of all pregnancies, and nearly half of pregnancies were unintended,” said the study, adding that India’s abortion rate is 47 per 1,000 women of reproductive age, which is similar to rates in Pakistan (50), Nepal (42) and Bangladesh (39). Dr Shekhar said the unintended pregnancies pointed to the need for better contraception and family planning programmes.

Around 53% Indians use modern contraception, but the expert said studies have shown that half the couples surveyed didn’t know how to use the condom correctly. The study — conducted jointly by IIPS, the Delhi-based Population Council and the New York-based Guttmacher Institute — compiled national sales and distribution data of medical abortion pills and conducted surveys of various public and private health facilities in six Indian states.

It estimated that close to three in four abortions are achieved using drugs from chemists and informal vendors. WHO says abortion medicines are safe and effective when used correctly and within a nineweek gestational limit.

Unfortunately, only a quarter of the abortions occur in the public sector, which is the main source of healthcare for the poor. Dr Sheriar said abortions are the third leading cause for maternal mortality in India. “The use of medicines for abortions has brought down this number from 12% to 8% in recent years, but it is still huge,” he said, underlining the need to make access to abortion easier for women. The results show abortions don’t need to take place in hospitals, nor do they need highly trained doctors. The study proposed recommended permitting nurses, AYUSH doctors (practitioners of indigenous medicine) and auxiliary nurse midwives to provide abortion medicines. This would expand the number of providers—and facilities—qualified to offer safe abortion services.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: