A helping hand, a listening ear: abortion
helpline in India, where 10 women a day die from unsafe terminations, offers
counselling and access to a safe clinic
6 Aug, 2020
Yet another consequence of the coronavirus pandemic has been to restrict the
access of millions of women in lockdown to their choice of birth control. India
is seeing millions of unintended pregnancies – and risky abortions.
Zainab Mandlawala will never forget her own experience on a March afternoon in
2018. After waiting for hours, a gynaecologist finally led her into the
operating room and numbed her cervix with a local anaesthetic. She then
performed a “D&C” – dilation and curettage – abortion.
Dushyant Kishan Kaul
India is largely seen a progressive regime on right to abortion. However, there have been multiple instances where courts have denied to grant abortion even in medically important cases. The author notes a case where the abortion procedure itself posed risks to the life of the mother. In this context the article analyses Indian courts and laws approach to mothers well being and reproduction rights.
The Supreme Court recently allowed the medical termination of twin pregnancies of a twenty-five-week pregnant woman. In Komal Hiwale v. State of Maharashtra, a bench, comprising of Justice R. Banumathi, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Aniruddha Bose, allowed for the abortion of a fetus which had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
July 28, 2020
by Priyanka Chakrabarty
In 2009 the Supreme Court of India gave a landmark judgement in Suchita Srivastava vs Chandigarh Administration case where it was held that right to reproductive autonomy is an integral part of Right to Life under Article 21 of Constitution of India. The Apex Court stressed that a medical procedure of abortion cannot be carried out on a woman if she has not consented to it. Hence, the right to reproductive autonomy was held as a Fundamental Right.
Right to Abortion: The Issue of Accessibility
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 has governed women’s right to access abortion and their reproductive autonomy. SheThePeople reached out to two lawyers who have been litigating on MTP cases to understand the realities of the women who reach out to courts to access their right to abortion. These cases raise important questions on aspects of choice and autonomy. Ultimately, the larger question looms, how free is the womb and the woman who carries it? Please note that the names of the survivors have been changed to respect privacy and anonymity.
Why COVID-19 Must Not Constrain Access to Abortion in India
During the pandemic, India must ensure that access to critical women’s health facilities remain unimpeded.
By Tarini Mehta
June 24, 2020
Some things cannot be stopped and started as we please, not even if a highly contagious virus demands it. A case in point is development through the different stages of pregnancy. The Indian government did declare safe abortion an essential health service on April 14, when the country was still under a COVID-19 lockdown. It brought some relief to a few women who urgently required those facilities. But things are not that simple.
According to a report by the IPAS Development Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to manage unwanted pregnancies in India, 73 percent of abortions that take place in India annually are done via medical abortion (MA) drugs that are accessed outside of facilities. Private health facilities take care of 16 percent of cases, while public health facilities cover another 6 percent. The remaining 5 percent are conducted through traditional methods that are considered unsafe. These include, but are not limited to, the usage of sticks, roots, and herbal medicines.
Abortion And The Law In India
Sangram Chinnappa & Abeera Dubey
10 Jun 2020
On 22nd May 2020, out of barely 30 cases enlisted on the daily board of Bombay High Court, 4 cases were for medical termination of pregnancy. One such case was of a 13-year old minor girl who was 22-weeks pregnant. The petition was filed through the girl's mother, a pavement dweller living in Thane. The girl in the case is a survivor of heinous rape alleged to have been committed by her own father. It has been reported that the father used to regularly abuse the girl, she then moved to south Mumbai to live with her aunt and stayed with her during the lockdown.
On 14th May, the girl told her aunt about the assault, after which she fell ill and was taken to the hospital. She was later diagnosed to be 22 weeks pregnant. When she went with her aunt to file the FIR at Crawford Police Station they wrongly refused to lodge her complaint and directed her to go to Thane Police Station. This was not an easy task as the entire country was in lockdown due to COVID-19. After they finally managed to lodged the FIR at the Thane Police Station under various sections of IPC and POCSO she was taken to taken to a JJ Hospital for an abortion. As she was already beyond the 20 week limit stipulated in the law, her family was informed that their only recourse was to get a judicial order from the High Court. The family which has a tough time making ends meet and without any source of income due to the Pandemic were made to run from pillar to post to find a lawyer who could help them out pro bono as they could never afford the fees for filing a Writ Petition in the High Court.
Why India’s law on abortion does not use the word ‘abortion’
Some attribute the curious choice of words ‘medical termination of pregnancy’ in the 1971 Act to the colonial hangover of using technical jargon. But that's not the case.
17 May, 2020
Have you wondered why the law on abortion in India, i.e., the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP), 1971, does not use the word ‘abortion’? Was there a reason for law makers to choose the phrase ‘medical termination of pregnancy’ over the colloquially recognised term ‘abortions’?
While some attribute the curious choice of words to the colonial hangover of using technical jargon in laws, the real reason is different. The intended use of the term ‘medical termination of pregnancy’ is aimed at ensuring that abortion laws in the country aren’t framed as granting women a choice or a right to undergo safe abortions, but as procedures to protect doctors against prosecution for conducting abortions. This blog explains how.
Lockdown cuts off access to abortions and sexual health care for many women
Limiting access to contraceptives and medical termination of pregnancies (MTPs) would only result in women turning to unsafe measures.
Dr Nimeshika Jayachandran
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Two weeks after the lockdown had been announced, 26-year-old Avantika*, a resident of Mumbai found herself panicking after a home pregnancy test she took was positive.
“I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t believe it at first and took 2 more tests which also were positive, and that’s when I really started to panic. I live with my friend and her cousin, who really supported me through the whole process. My friend’s cousin called up a few hospitals near where we live to find out if we could get a scan to confirm the pregnancy, nearly all of them said no,” she says.
Woman dies after taking abortion pills; 6 booked
Husband, in-laws and doctor among those booked.
By Somendranath Sharma, Mumbai Mirror
Updated: May 12, 2020
Police in Kashimira, Mira Road, have booked six people following the death of a pregnant woman caused by consumption of abortion pills.
The 32-year-old woman was about six weeks pregnant; those booked include her husband, a real estate agent, her in-laws, their family doctor and a medical representative. Police have opened an investigation, although no arrests have been made so far.
How ‘Essential’ Abortion Services Are Inaccessible in the Lockdown
A 19-year-old rape survivor in Mumbai found out she was pregnant right when India implemented its nationwide lockdown. She knew she had to get an abortion, but with no transport available and with many clinics shutting down their operations, she felt helpless and out of options.
“We went and picked her up and ensured she got the abortion at a public hospital. Forced sex is a critical issue in a lockdown and abortion services are required here and now,” Sangeeta Rege of the Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT), the NGO that intervened and arranged for the girl’s pass and travel, told Reuters.
Bombay high court lets teen rape survivor abort 24-week fetus
Mumbai News - Times of India
Updated: May 10, 2020
The Bombay high court on Friday permitted a 16-year-old rape survivor to undergo medical termination of her 24-and-half-week pregnancy after her father filed a petition.
The HC said, “In view of her history and the fact that teenage pregnancy carries a risk of higher mental and physical morbidity and mortality, medical termination of pregnancy has been recommended by the medical board.” The order was passed via a videoconference hearing. The plea had sought urgent orders during the ongoing lockdown and the state and centre supported its urgency. The girl was 23-weeks pregnant then.