India – Child marriage crackdown in Assam: Pregnant teens avoid hospital, resort to abortion fearing arrests

FEB 12 2023

With the Assam government coming down strong on child marriages and arresting over 2,700 people as of Friday for violations in this regard, fear and apprehension have gripped the pregnant teenagers in the state.

With their husbands and fathers either absconding or arrested, expecting mothers in their teens, overcome by fear, are backing away from receiving proper medical attention. Few of the pregnant teenagers have even gone incommunicado with the ASHA workers in their villages fearing action.


India – Courts may ‘allow abortion beyond 24 weeks’ of pregnancy for sexual assault victims: Delhi HC

Single-judge bench of Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma issued guidelines while hearing a petition by a 14-yr-old victim, seeking abortion in the 25th week of her pregnancy.

27 January, 2023

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued guidelines for abortion in cases of sexual assault, noting that a victim cannot be forced to give birth to a child as it would violate her right to live with dignity.

The judgment delivered by a single-judge bench of Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma was uploaded Thursday on the Delhi HC website. The judge observed that crucial time is lost in the process of passing termination orders. It issued a slew of directions to investigating officers in cases of pregnancies exceeding 24 weeks.


India – Minors not banned from buying contraceptives, clarifies dept

January 21, 2023
Rachana Ramesh

Bengaluru: The Drugs Control Department of Karnataka issued a diktat to all pharmacists banning them from selling condoms, oral contraceptives and antidepressants to minors, as was reported on Wednesday. The move came after condoms, contraceptives, cigarettes and whiteners were found in bags of Class 10 students during a search by the management of a school recently.

Following this development, the Drug Control Department received several petitions requesting it to take suitable action. However, on Thursday, the department denied having issued the circular and media reports claimed that the Drug Controller of the state said that "they were only trying to create awareness by telling pharmacists to counsel minors who want to purchase condoms and oral contraceptives.”


India – Pharmacies in Coimbatore district instructed not to sell abortion pills over the counter

January 14, 2023

The Drugs Control Department has instructed pharmacies in Coimbatore district not to sell abortion pills to people who do not produce a valid prescription from a gynaecologist. The instruction was given to pharmacy owners at a recent meeting arranged by the department here.

According to the department officials, the meeting was held based on an instruction issued by P.V. Vijayalakshmi, Director of Drugs Control, on cautious handling of abortion pills to medical shops across Tamil Nadu.


India – Why the Supreme Court order on abortion is not helping women

Despite the landmark judgment by the Supreme Court in September 2022 that unmarried women too can terminate their pregnancy until 24 weeks, the situation on the ground remains dismal as the MTP Act hasn’t been amended yet

January 09, 2023

When Mumbai-based Shalini* walked into the State-run J.J. Hospital in December last year seeking an abortion, she was turned away. Doctors at the hospital decided that her case was legally complicated. Her pregnancy had crossed 20 weeks, she was unmarried and the reason for her pregnancy was determined “as due to failure of contraception”. She then approached the Wadia Hospital, a charitable institution, which too turned her away.

Shalini wanted to discontinue her pregnancy as she was not ready to have the baby. When her pleas to two hospitals fell on deaf ears, Shalini had to finally move the Bombay High Court citing the Supreme Court judgment to get a favourable recourse.


India has a liberal abortion law — then why are unsafe abortions so rampant?

An adult abortion seeker doesn’t need a husband or partner’s permission to get an abortion, and can terminate a pregnancy up to 24 weeks. And yet, 67% of the abortions in the country are unsafe.

Sukanya Shaji

When Dr Suchitra Dalvie was a trainee back in 1995, she was assisting in the surgery of a woman who had internal injuries following an abortion. “She had sepsis due to sticks being inserted in her uterus for termination of pregnancy,” Dr Suchitra, a gynaecologist who is now the Coordinator at the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership tells TNM. This is neither an isolated incident nor have things changed much in the last 25 years. “While such cases may be rarer in cities now, they are very much present in rural and semi rural areas due to lack of access to safe abortion services”, she says. Some studies estimate that at least eight women die in India due to an unsafe abortion every single day — 67% of abortions in the country between 2007 and 2011 are believed to have been unsafe. “Young women aged 15–19 were at the highest risk of dying from an abortion-related complication,” according to the United Nations Population Fund’s State of World Population Report 2022.

All this in a country that has one of the most liberal on-paper abortion laws in the world.


India – Pandemic pushes wife to write book on crusading doc who fought to raise abortion limit

Mumbai News
Published on Dec 24

Mumbai: When Covid forced the world to shut down, Dr Smita Datar, the wife of a renowned gynaecologist and judicial activist used the time in hand to write about her husband’s 14-year crusade—a crusade that pushed the Union cabinet to upgrade an archaic law in 2020. The story of Dr Nikhil Datar, who got policymakers to raise the upper limit for abortions from 20 weeks to 24 weeks, is now encapsulated in a Marathi book, Fakt Tichyasaathi (Only For Her), which was released today in Mumbai.

“Years ago, the need to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and extend the permissible abortion term was discussed only in medical conferences,” said Dr Smita. “My husband had just started his practice but he was focused on bringing justice to women. He saw many ups and downs and faced criticism but never gave up. And 50 years after the passage of the historic MTP Act of 1971, the MTP Amendment Bill 2020 was passed. It was a landmark.”


Despite victories, abortion still stigmatized, regulated in India

Dec 22, 2022

When Sakshi Bhatt, a Delhi-based journalist, required an abortion last June after an unexpected pregnancy, she assumed that she would be able to obtain safe medical care without much trouble. But Ms. Bhatt’s experience left her distressed and emotionally scarred.

“When the doctors realized I was not married, they were not supportive at all, and kept making judgmental comments like, ‘You are a girl, you should have been more careful,’” said Ms. Bhatt, who works at Outlook, a news magazine.


Checking the blind spots in India’s abortion ruling

17 December 2022
Authors: Niharika Rustagi and Kaushambi Bagchi, NUS

Sexual and reproductive health rights are crucial to women’s bodily autonomy and empowerment. But women from many countries are not guaranteed these fundamental rights. Landmark rulings in several countries have paved the way for access to abortion services, maternal healthcare and assisted reproduction, including in countries with restrictive reproductive rights laws.

In India, legal reforms related to reproductive rights have been in progress for some time. In 2021, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971, which had previously restricted safe and legal abortions to married women, was amended to include unmarried women. On 29 September 2022, the Supreme Court of India passed a judgement that guaranteed all women, regardless of their marital status, the right to undergo abortions up to 24 weeks into their pregnancy up from 21 weeks.


Abortion in India: legal, but not a woman’s right

On the surface, India has one of the world’s highest abortion rates and most progressive abortion laws, but this hides a tangle of issues that prevent many women from accessing safe abortion. Geetanjali Krishna reports

BMJ 2022; 379
13 December 2022
Geetanjali Krishna, freelance journalist

“I wanted to be sterilised when my second set of twins was born,” says Maina Devi. “But my family said that life in our village is too uncertain for such things.”

Devi is a 25 year old farmer from Jamunipur, a hamlet in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, who has two sets of twins under 5 years of age. Her husband refuses to use contraception. She’s not aware that, during her second pregnancy, she could have opted for abortion on the grounds of contraceptive failure. All she does now is pray that she doesn’t get pregnant again.