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Abortion in India

Abortion has been legal in India since MTP Act was brought into effect in April 1972.This Act ensured access to safe and legal abortion services for women under following conditions:

  • Continuation of pregnancy is a risk to the life of the pregnant women or could cause grave injury to her physical or mental health.
  • There is a substantial risk that the child if born would be handicapped due to physical or mental abnormalities.
  • The pregnancy was caused by the rape (presumed to constitute grave injury to mental health)
  • The pregnancy was caused due to failure of contraceptives used by the married women or her husband.

The opinion of two registered medial practitioners is required if the termination is between 12-20 weeks.

 Despite the law, the safe abortion services are not accessible in many areas. Women with unintended pregnancies turn to unsafe methods or to untrained providers to end their pregnancy thus risking their lives. According to a survey report each year, an estimated 6.4 million abortions take place in India of which 56% are unsafe.

The other main causes are non-availability of trained providers and detailed documentation requirements contributing to abortion related mortality and morbidity. In India, 13 women die due to abortion related causes each day and hundreds more suffer severe complications. There are socio- economic factors that stop women to seek unsafe abortions. The distance to the health center in the village is a challenge for the woman. Only 30% of primary health care centers that are the first contact point for rural women are offering services. Attitudes and stigma toward young, unmarried women seeking abortion also contribute to the high number of unsafe abortions. Some providers refuse to perform abortion for these women forcing them to seek unsafe options. While the law requires the consent of only the woman if she is over the age of 18 years, in practice many providers also ask for consent from the spouse or parents.

All these factors together force women to seek services from unskilled providers who use unsafe abortion methods. Women continue to face life-threatening situation in such a scenario. Access to safe abortion service needs to be recognized and advocated as per the reproductive needs of the women ensuring that no woman face mortality due to unsafe abortion practices.



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