By Ipas Development Foundation in Gender and Sexuality, Sexual Health, Taboos
17th October, 2020
Co-authored by Shivi Sukhija and Parul
Societal norms and cultures affect all of us and often take over our decision making powers and capabilities. One commonly occurring, but rarely discussed, instance is when a woman has an unintended pregnancy. Any woman in such a scenario, whether married or unmarried, will have two options available with her – to continue the pregnancy or to consider various options available for its termination or abortion.
The decision should be hers and Indian law also permits termination of pregnancy under a broad range of conditions. But a complicated journey begins when she decides to terminate the pregnancy and due to societal concerns and taboos attached with abortion, she herself or her partner are unable to discuss their thoughts and feelings with peers and families. As a result, in an effort to hide the unintended pregnancy and their decision to terminate it, the woman and her partner end up seeking unsafe abortion services.
After decades of advocacy, it took the Lok Sabha only 15 days—without adequate consultation with those involved—to clear amendments to India’s abortion laws. Instead of making abortion easier for women who need it, such as rape survivors, the changes only make it more difficult.
Sept 6, 2020
New Delhi: In 2019, a 13-year-old rape survivor in Madhya Pradesh found out she was pregnant and in her 24th week. With the help of Nikita Sonawane, a lawyer associated with the Criminal Justice and Police Accountability Project (CPAProject), an advocacy, she approached the High Court in June 2019. The court allowed her to go ahead with the termination of pregnancy—but only six weeks later, by which time she already reached her 30th week.
“The doctors had to induce delivery. She was in labour for 24 hours,” said Sonawane. Her lawyers pleaded for mental-health support but the biggest government hospital in Madhya Pradesh did not have a child psychologist. "Finally, a psychiatrist was arranged, said Sonavane. "It was an immensely harrowing experience for her.”
In one critical segment of healthcare—population services—India failed women almost completely.
21 Aug 2020
The fate of 30-year old Neelam, who died in the eight month of pregnancy because of lack of proper medical facilities sums up the fate of a large number of women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite being in her final trimester and unwell, she failed to get admitted in even one of eight hospitals whose doors her family knocked at in NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh.
Her husband and brother took the unwell woman to eight hospitals in one day but were refused admission, allegedly on grounds that each of them was already overburdened with patients.
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.
By Miriam Berger
July 15, 2020
It has been five months — a bit more than half the length of an average pregnancy — since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic.
With millions of people cut off from reproductive health care and stuck at home, some experts predicted that the crisis would create the conditions for a baby boom, at least in some countries. Other analysts predicted a baby bust, driven by economic and social instability.
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.
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.
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.
COVID-19 compromised access to 1.85 million abortions: Study
8 June 2020
Abortion access to around 1.85 million women was compromised across the country due to the nationwide restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, a study conducted by Ipas Development Foundation (IDF) revealed.
These abortions were compromised at all points of care, including public and private sector facilities and chemist outlets during 68-day lockdown and the first week of Unlock 0.1 period.The study assesses the near-term impact of COVID-19 on abortion access in India since March 25 when the lockdown was imposed across the country with the announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of novel coronavirus of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pandemic And Legal Abortion: What Happens When Access Is Limited?
June 8, 2020
Isabella Gomez Sarmiento
In April, Johanna Cruz terminated her pregnancy with drugs obtained through a telemedicine consultation.
Abortion is legal in Colombia. And Cruz, a street performer from Chile who was backpacking through the Colombian state of Antioquia, did not feel she was in a position to raise a child. She didn't have a steady income or stable housing. And with stay-at-home orders in place to control the spread of coronavirus, she found herself facing homelessness in the town of San Rafael and unable to travel to Medellin, the nearest city with an abortion clinic.