COVID-19 has “devastating” effect on women and girls

Sophie Cousins, The Lancet
August 01, 2020

Natalia Kanem, executive director of the UN Population Fund, is among experts warning about disrupted health services and a surge in gender-based violence. Sophie Cousins reports.

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates, fears are increasing about the effect of the pandemic on women's and girls' sexual and reproductive health and their access to care. In response to COVID-19, in March, WHO issued interim guidance for maintaining essential services during an outbreak, which included advice to prioritise services related to reproductive health and make efforts to avert maternal and child mortality and morbidity.


India – The women who can’t get an abortion in lockdown

India's grinding national coronavirus lockdown complicated life for women trying to access safe abortions, and now cities are bringing back restrictions, reports Menaka Rao.

13 July 2020
Menaka Rao

In the last week of May, a 20-year old college-going woman in India's capital, Delhi, found out that she was pregnant.

The woman, Kiran, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, had already taken abortion pills on the advice of a friend who was a doctor. But they did not work and so, her only option was a surgical abortion.


India – ‘1.85m Women May Have Failed To Get An Abortion During Lockdown’

Sadhika Tiwari
July 5, 2020

New Delhi: In the first three months of the COVID-19 lockdown, March 25 to June 24, 2020, 47% of the estimated 3.9 million abortions that would have likely taken place in India in this span under normal circumstances were possibly compromised. This means that 1.85 million Indian women could not terminate an unwanted pregnancy, concluded a May 2020 modelling study conducted by the Ipas Development Foundation (IDF), India, a non-profit dedicated to preventing and managing unwanted pregnancies. Of these 1.85 million women, 80% or 1.5 million compromised abortions were due to the lack of availability of medical abortion drugs at pharmacy stores, the study found.

The estimation builds on data from telephone surveys of 509 public-sector facilities across eight states, 52 private-sector providers, expert opinion of members of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), sales data on medical abortion drugs, and trend estimation by pharmaceutical industry experts.


India – Covid-19 fuelling mother and child mortality rates

Covid-19 fuelling mother and child mortality rates

Jun 16, 2020
Sanchita Sharma, Hindustantimes

Priyanshi Kol was born in her parent’s one-room hutment in Ansara village in the Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh on May 21 because her mother Shivjanki, 26, couldn’t get an ambulance to reach Sanjay Gandhi Medical Hospital 100 km away.

She died on June 13 from childbirth-related complications. She was 23 days old.


18.5 lakh in India didn’t get access to abortion facilities in lockdown

18.5 lakh in India didn’t get access to abortion facilities in lockdown
In some instances, where the pregnancy exceeded 20 weeks, the Karnataka High Court, gave relief during the lockdown.

Published: 02nd June 2020
By Chetana Belagere, Express News Service

BENGALURU: A 12-year-old girl from a poor, illiterate tribal family of rural Karnataka, who got pregnant after a sexual assault, had to go back and forth between medical facilities and the court to terminate her pregnancy during the lockdown. She is not alone. In the last three months, at least 18.5 lakh women across the country did not have access to abortion facilities. A survey conducted in 12 states by Ipas Development Foundation, which collaborates with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to improve the availability of comprehensive contraceptive care, showed,


India – MTP Act: More needs to be done to make the Amendments meaningful for women

MTP Act: More needs to be done to make the Amendments meaningful for women

The Parliament’s approval of the Medical Termination Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, is an outcome of several years of multi stakeholder consultations and comes after multiple petitions in the Supreme Court and High Courts of India. The changes to the law come at a time when 10 women die every day as a result of unsafe abortion.

Mar 20, 2020
Vinoj Manning

India legalized abortion in 1971 with the passage of the MTP Act, a law considered much ahead of its time. However, it is obsolete now given the societal changes and advancements in preconception diagnostics, fetal screening and abortion technologies. The current amendments address some of these – they now allow unmarried women to seek safe abortion services on grounds of contraceptive failure and re-emphasize maintaining confidentiality for all women undergoing termination of pregnancy, thereby making it easier for single women to access these services.


India – Abortion bill 2020 is good, but not good enough

Abortion bill 2020 is good, but not good enough

Feb 16, 2020
Sanchita Sharma, Hindustantimes

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment Bill, 2020, has got several things right. Raising the upper limit of legal abortions from 20 weeks to 24 weeks for “special categories of women”, including rape and incest survivors, other vulnerable women, and children; and completely removing the upper gestation limit for abortion in the cases of substantial foetal abnormalities will help many more seek safe and legal abortion services.

Other positive inclusions are allowing all women, and not just married ones, to legally seek abortions, and striking out the need for the opinion of a second registered practitioner for aborting pregnancies up to 20 weeks. The draft proposes that the opinion of two practitioners will now be needed only for abortions in the 20-24 weeks period.


INDIA Prime Minister’s Cabinet tables proposal for abortion law reform

FEATURE: INDIA Prime Minister’s Cabinet tables proposal for abortion law reform

14 February 2020
International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

On 29 January 2020, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Modi published the text of a bill to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The bill is to be introduced in the ensuing session of the Union Parliament, where it will be debated. A summary of the current law, the amendments it proposes, and responses to the bill by leading NGOs working for abortion rights in India are reported below. Text in quotes is taken direct from the source.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971
The 1971 Act says that a pregnancy may be terminated up to 20 weeks of pregnancy with the approval of one registered medical practitioner up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, or the approval of “no less than two registered medical practitioners” from 12 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Approval must be given “in good faith” that:


Opinion: India’s government must prioritize women’s needs — including SRHR

Opinion: India's government must prioritize women's needs — including SRHR

By Vinoj Manning
24 July 2019

The 2019 general elections in India saw a record turnout of women — equal to the percentage of male voters — and indicating that women expect the majority government of the day to prioritize and address their needs.

One of their primary expectations is improved access to women’s sexual reproductive health and rights services.


India: In Madhya Pradesh, an innovative solution that shows the way to end unsafe abortions

In Madhya Pradesh, an innovative solution that shows the way to end unsafe abortions
Madhya Pradesh, according to a 2015 Guttmacher Institute report, is among six states where the maternal mortality rate is higher than that of India — 221 compared to 167 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Written by Shai Venkatraman
Published: May 22, 2019

Clad in a hospital gown, Rukhsan Banu waits outside the MTP OT (Medical Termination of Pregnancy Operation Theatre) at the Elgin Rani Durgavati Hospital in Jabalpur. The 24-year-old, just over two months pregnant, does not want to keep the baby. “My husband and I have two children and we don’t want any more”.

Rukhsan and her sister-in-law travelled for over three hours from their home in Seoni village to come here for the procedure. The operation theatre, which opened in September 2017, is the first of its kind at a government hospital in India.