More than 10 million women secretly terminate their pregnancies every year in India.
New Delhi: Unsafe abortions conducted in unsanitary conditions by unqualified practitioners or practitioners are killing one woman every two hours in India, says a data on maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and Sample Registration System (SRS) compiled by Ipas, India, a global NGO working on ending preventable deaths and disabilities from unsafe abortion.Photo: www.who.int
Rural government clinics are often nothing more than skeletal brick structures with tin roofs and sporadic electricity supply. Women lie on old gurneys or beds if one is available; just as often, they bed down in dark rooms on mud floors scattered with bloody dressings. Less than 20% of these centers provide legitimate abortion facilities, compelling many rural women to seek alternatives.
“India’s expenditure on health care is only 3.9% of its gross domestic product, putting it on par with Gabon or the Central African Republic,” says a report published in Times.
Indian abortion laws are liberal — the country is one of only 14 that allow abortion on broad grounds. But misunderstandings about the law and conservative social codes that regard pregnancy out of wedlock as abhorrent mean that many women don’t get help.
Over 10 million women terminate their pregnancies in the privacy of their homes every year. It reflects the government’s failure to adequately address family planning needs and educating women about contraceptives.
Millions of women – says an IndiaSpend report – become pregnant because they lack access to contraceptive devices, or are fearful of using themor, or are ignorant about contraceptive devices.
According to the District Level Household and Facility Survey 2007-08, one in every five women in the country do not get contraceptives because of unmet need of family planning programmes and budget skewed towards sterilisation.
A 2005-06 National Family Health Survey estimate, which is the latest available in public domain, eliminating all unwanted births by adequately meeting the need for contraceptives would reduce India’s total fertility rate below the replacement level – a stage where the population neither increases nor decreases – of 2.1, says the report.
India’s fertility rate is currently 2.3, but if women were provided contraceptive devices and guaranteed safe abortions, apart from keeping women safe, fewer babies would be born, and the fertility rate could fall to 1.9 (the same as US, Australia and Sweden), says the report of the website quoting the estimate cites in the above paragraph.
An estimated 2 to 5% Indian women require surgical intervention to resolve an incomplete abortion, terminate a continuing pregnancy, or control bleeding, according to the World Health Organization.
The taking of pills to induce an abortion enters the national data as no more than pharmaceutical industry sales data.
Against 0.7 million reported annual abortions, India logged sales of 11 million units of popular abortion medicines, mifepristone and misoprostol, according to this June 2016 report in Lancet, a global medical journal.