Lack of awareness and access to quality healthcare are two major causes for unsafe abortions in India:HCFI

11:09 am Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community

Sensitizing women in rural areas about the use of contraceptives and safe delivery is the need of the hour

New Delhi, 7th May 2019: About half (48%) of all pregnancies in India are unintended largely because women, both married and unmarried, have no information about safe sex or don’t have access to contraceptives, indicates a recent study. Women are denied sex education in school and information about contraceptives and abortion services out of it, which result in millions of unintended pregnancies every year.

Some of the leading causes of unsafe abortions include poverty, gaps in health services, and teen pregnancy. Abortions are also mostly undertaken by unskilled persons in unregistered places. The need of the hour is large-scale awareness and better regulation of the healthcare sector to provide quality services to all, including contraceptives, safe delivery and abortions.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “One of the major reasons for the high rate of abortions in India is the lack of access to knowledge about contraception. This results in high rates of unplanned pregnancy. Apart from this, abortion pills can be effective and safe when administered correctly. However, many women may not have the right information on how to use them properly, which can prove fatal to their health over time. Only a certain percentage of women may have access to abortions using medication. This makes it imperative to provide the others with accurate information on how to use abortion pills and give them access to quality healthcare in case of any complications.”

An estimated 800,000 women in India undergo unsafe abortions through the traditional methods to abort the unwanted fetus. Some of them also go to untrained pharmacists, chemists and informal vendors for the process, indicates the study.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Education and awareness on contraceptives and abortions go hand in hand. Assessing the situation, the need of the hour is to make safe abortion a reality and available across the country. Pregnancy can be terminated surgically or medically. The concern is around medical abortions, done through pills that are either orally or vaginally inserted. While there is a need to improve facilities in public healthcare for safer abortions, awareness programmes can prevent many women from getting into complications through incorrect use of medications.”

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.

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