Lack of awareness on how to safely terminate a pregnancy can prove detrimental
HEALTH DESK / New Delhi
Latest Estimates indicate that a large majority of women, even in urban India, are unaware of their rights regarding abortion. They continue to resort to unsafe and medically non-substantiated methods of abortions which at times prove fatal. Unsafe abortions currently account for one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in India. Only one in 10 abortions in Delhi are reported, say gynecologists, with the official figures on termination of pregnancies hovering between 49,000 and 56,000 in the last five years (2013 to December 2018).
Banning abortions does not stop women from getting a pregnancy terminated but does increase the risk of them resorting to dangerous measures to end unwanted pregnancies.
“One of the major reasons for the high rate of abortions could be the lack of access to good contraception in many regions, resulting in high rates of unplanned pregnancy. Then there is the question of abortion pills. Abortion pills can be effective and safe when administered correctly. However, many women may not have the right information of how to use them properly, which can be fatal to their health too. Only a certain percentage of women may have access to medication abortions. This makes it imperative to provide the others with accurate information on how to use these pills and access to quality healthcare in case of any complications,” said Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI).
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Education and awareness on contraceptives and abortions go. Assessing the situation, the need of the hour is to make safe abortion a reality and available across the country. It is also important to ensure that women from all strata of society have access to the right information.”
Abortion is a highly restricted process in India. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971), permits abortions before 12 weeks of pregnancy by a registered medical practitioner or before 20 weeks of pregnancy with the approval of two registered medical practitioners, but only if the mother or child’s mental or physical health is in danger.
Termination of pregnancy can be done surgically or medically. The concern is about the second, medical abortions, which is done by taking pills that are either orally ingested or vaginally inserted. While there is a need to improve facilities in public healthcare facilities for safer abortions, awareness programmes can prevent many women from getting into complications through incorrect use of medications.