Abortions not only harm a woman’s body but also affect her psychologically.
India is the country with the highest rate of abortion of young women in the world on account of various factors which include human trafficking, teenage love, unsafe sex, gender bias etc. Because of this, illegal abortion centres are mushrooming in almost every city. When a woman gets pregnant out of social permissions or wedlocks she turns to these illegal centres for performing abortions. Abortions not only harm her body but also affect her psychologically.
Each year, 19 to 20 million women risk their lives by undergoing unsafe abortions, conducted in unsanitary conditions by unqualified practitioners who runs illegal centres. About 50 per cent of the abortion centres are unsafe — an appalling number when one considers that abortions are simple procedures when done correctly. In India, the problem of unsafe abortions is especially acute. There were 6,20,472 reported cases in 2012.
Chetan Kothari an RTI Activist said “There are only chances of sexual violence or a family pressure that forces a girl to seek an abortion. As such we cannot prevent the abortions from happening due to lack of effective legislations, but it is sad and shocking that minor children get into situations where they have to undergo an abortion.”
Abortion doesn’t mean that all aborted pregnancies were out of wedlock. Many unsafe abortions are performed on married women who doesn’t use contraception do not wish to have another child.
A doctor from a Municipal hospital spoke on the condition of anonymity and said, “Women have to undergo an abortion because of early marriages which are not unheard of in Indian society. The fact that the youngsters have to undergo an abortion indicates poor sex education among teenagers, the possibility of the girls having been victims of sexual violence or the prevalence of under-age marriages in Indian society.”
Sangeeta Rege of CEHAT said, “The reasons could be early marriage, pregnancy as a result of sexual violence or lack of information about contraception in situations of consensual sex. However, she pointed to a peculiar problem that is being noticed with respect to teenage abortions. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP) guarantees complete confidentiality to women who seek abortions.”
“A family preference for male continues to have a very strong influence on women’s contraceptive use, especially on their use of terminal methods”, she said.
A doctor from an abortion centre spoke to AV on the condition of anonymity and said, “It is difficult to say whether these girls were abused or whether they willingly entered into a relationship. But it reflects the need to teach our youngsters to stand up for themselves and use protection not only against unwanted pregnancy at such an young age but also against sexually transmitted diseases.”
On an average, five women die due to wrong abortion in our country in every 10 hours. An abortion can be performed in India until the 20th week of pregnancy. The opinion of a second doctor is required if the pregnancy is past its 12th week. If a woman is married, her own written consent is sufficient. Her husband’s consent is not required. If a woman is unmarried and over 18, she can provide her own written consent.
Dr Nozer Sheriar of FOGSI said, “Most of the women are married before reaching the legal minimum age at marriage, and women have their first birth early at the age of 19. Contraceptive prevalence is high, but most women use contraception only when they have completed their childbearing.”
“Marriageable age of women in Maharashtra is relatively low. The median age of marriage for women from the age 25-49 is 16 years. The Maharashtra government data shows that around 30 per cent of women aged around 15 are already married, the same as the national average. Three-fifths of women aged 20-49 and nearly 48% per cent of younger women in the age 20-24 in Maharashtra get married before reaching the legal minimum age of 18 years,” Dr Sheriar said.
Dr Parikshit Tank Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said, “The Municipal Corporation has recently put in place mechanisms for reporting abortions with tablets (medicated abortions) from stand alone clinics. This has also boosted numbers. Another way to look at abortion numbers is the ORG data of pharmaceutical industry related to sales of abortion medications. There has been a slow and steady increase but not a drastic one.”
“The greatest tool against illegal abortion is public awareness. If women know that abortion is legal, safe, dignified and available at low cost in public health facilities, the demand for illegal abortion should drop. We have to strengthen infrastructure towards this end,” Dr Tank said.
Speaking about the after effect of pregnancy termination Dr Parikshit Tank said, “When performed scientifically, termination of pregnancy is one of the safest medical procedures. After effects are rare and significant ones are rarer still.”
Though he also stated the rare effects which can occur after going through an abortion, “The remote risks of pregnancy termination include prolonged bleeding, infection of the pelvic organs (resulting in pelvic pain and infertility) and the phenomenon of regret. Once again, these risks are rarely found in practice,” he said.