Low priority for reproductive health during lockdown leaves millions unable to access contraception or safe terminations
Neha Thirani Bagri in Mumbai
Published on Mon 13 Jul 2020
Sadhna Gupta* discovered she was pregnant just after India imposed a crippling lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The 21-year-old from the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar didn’t want to be pregnant. With no public transport available, clinics closed and Bhubaneswar at a standstill, she bought an abortion pill without consulting a doctor. While what she did was not unusual, Indian law requires a prescription for the pills from a licensed medical professional.
Women are finding it difficult to access abortion care, an essential service during lockdown
The closure of private clinics, lack of mobility and lockdown rules are restricting women from access to abortion care.
By Nirandhi Gowthaman
6th May 2020
The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has adversely affected many communities and subsections of society especially the poor, migrant labourers, marginalised communities and women. Particularly, pregnant women, new mothers and women seeking abortions have been affected due to lack of resources during the lockdown.
The Ministry of Health in its note on providing essential healthcare services said, “Focusing on COVID-19 related activities, and continuing to provide essential services, is important not only to maintain people’s trust in the health system to deliver essential health services, but also to minimise an increase in morbidity and mortality from other health conditions.”
How India's Most Important Law for Children's Safety is Leading to Unsafe Abortions Among Teenagers
The conflict of the POCSO and the MTP Act is making doctors hesitant to provide services to girls under-18 due to fear of prosecution, and teenaged girls apprehensive of seeking abortion services from legal providers, in turn, forcing them to seek unsafe abortion measures.
October 23, 2019
Delhi: A few days after discovering she is pregnant, Rekha*, along with her mother, went to Dr Samir R Pradhan, a gynaecologist in Mumbai. She wanted an abortion. The doctor tried to determine her age through her Aadhaar card but it mentioned only her year of birth.
Her school documents revealed that she's a couple of months short of 18 - anything less than that age means there can be no consent involved in sex. Or, that's what the law says. "An act of sex with a woman below 18 years is considered to be rape and we are bound by the law to inform the authorities," Dr Pradhan says.