By Janees Rafiq
26th October, 2020
Unsafe abortions have devastating effects on women’s health. Every year around 42 million women with unintended pregnancies choose abortion. Nearly half of these procedures that about 20 million abortions are unsafe. Around 68,000 women die because of unsafe abortions, making it one of the causes of increasing maternal mortality rate. Of women who survive unsafe abortions, 5 million suffer long-term health complications. Unsafe abortion is thus a pressing issue.
While some abortions are self-induced, most of them are performed by providers lacking required qualifications and skills to perform abortions and hence termed unsafe WHO defines unsafe abortion as a procedure for terminating an unintended pregnancy carried out either by persons lacking skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards or both. According to WHO, every 8 minutes, a woman in a developing country dies due to complications arising out of unsafe abortions.
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.
On September 23, the Orissa high court — responding to a writ petition concerning the medical termination of pregnancy — refused a physically disabled and mentally challenged rape victim’s request to abort her 24-week-old foetus. The high court relied on the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules 2003, plus the advice of doctors, to deny permission. Though the court did grant monetary compensation to support the child’s upbringing, and made the state responsible for the child’s education, was the decision ethical?
Given the woman’s right to privacy, dignity and bodily rights, the case of mental illness, the trauma of rape giving rise to the pregnancy, the state’s interest in preserving life and the law of the land, finding which way the ethical compass here isn’t easy.
Tue, Sep 22 2020
New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS): High Courts across the nation are currently witnessing a substantial increase in abortion cases, revealed a legal report on Tuesday.
In 'Assessing the Judiciary's Role in Access to Safe Abortion- II' report by Pratigya campaign, cases seeking permission of termination of pregnancy from the High Courts in India from May 2019 to August were analysed.
There were total 243 cases filed across 14
high courts and one appeal before the Supreme Court. In 84 per cent of the
cases, permissions were given to terminate the pregnancy.
V S Chandrashekar
Sep 19 2020
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment Bill 2020 is due to be discussed in an upcoming Rajya Sabha session. This is the second time, in its 49 years of existence, that the MTP Act will be amended. While introducing the Bill in the Lok Sabha, the Health Minister highlighted the government’s intent to improve access to safe, affordable and legal abortion services for women without compromising on safety, quality of care and more importantly to ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate their pregnancies.
The Amendment Bill proposes some welcome changes-- it replaces the phrase “married woman and her husband” with “woman and her partner”; increases the upper gestation limit to 20-24 weeks for “certain categories of women”; reduces opinion required for termination of pregnancy between the 12th and 20th week of gestation from two providers to one and removes upper gestation limit for foetal abnormalities ‘necessitated by the diagnosis of a Medical Board.”
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.”
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.