Lucknow: Shweta and her husband were not planning for the baby when she conceived. Without taking any doctor's consultation, they decided to abort the pregnancy by using an easily available abortion pill. This made them suffer a lot.
"We were not ready for the child at that time when I discovered that I am pregnant. I knew that if I tell it to my in-laws, they would never agree for abortion. So I searched on the internet and asked my husband to bring the abortion pill from the market. The pharmacist gave a kit of 2 medicines to be eaten one after another. The moment I ate the second pill and went to the loo, I don't know when I fell unconscious. After a couple of hours, I was taken to the hospital. By then, I had lost a good quantity of blood, "Shweta (29 years) told Gaon Connection.
Leading Cause Of Death
Shweta had taken medicines without consulting a gynaecologist. Had Shweta not reached the doctor on time, extreme blood loss could have taken her life.
According to a report of the Press Trust of India, due to unsafe abortions, ten women die every day, in India making it the third leading cause of maternal death in the country.
A report published in Global Medical Journal, Lancet on June 2016, says that 7 million annual abortions have been registered in India against 110 million units of sales of Abortion drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol.
To figure the entire procedure out, team Gaon Connection did a sting operation. We went to the pharmacist and asked for the abortion pills without any prescription. To our amaze, the pharmacist not only handed us over the abortion pills but also explained the entire dosage.
However, according to the law, abortion pills should be given only on the basis of the prescription from a registered doctor and has to be eaten at a registered hospital.
On typing 'abortion' on Google, the next two words appearing are 'procedure' and 'pills'. The search engine shows १३ crore searches of 'abortion'.
According to WHO (World Health Organization), in a country like India, where 45 thousand women die each year due to pregnancy and delivery-related issues, there is a need of bridging the communication gap. Even today, families feel uncomfortable when it comes to talking about topics such as menstruation, pregnancy, and abortion.
Untrained Doctors, Unauthorised Centers
"Village Women reach us in a very bad situation. They would go to the untrained and unauthorized doctors and only when the situation becomes critical, they come to us for help" says Dr S.P. Jaiswar, Superintendent, Queen Mary Hospital, Lucknow.
Ashish Kumar (changed name), a resident of Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, took his wife to a local who claimed to be a medical expert, for abortion. The unauthorized person operated Ashish's wife unprofessionally, leading to severe blood loss and perforation after which she was rushed to Queen Mary Hospital, Lucknow.
"I brought my wife here because she was very critical. She was admitted here for 7 days. They (doctors) operated and removed her uterus and she was on ventilator for 5 days. But we were late, she could not survive due to multiple organ failure," Ashish told Gaon Connection.
"Five-six days on the ventilator, many operations, but her life could not be saved. She was very severe when they approached us," hospital superintendent Dr SP Jaiswar gave the information to Gaon Connection correspondent over the telephone.
Dr Jaiswar further states, "Not only women from rural areas, but the educated women from cities also risk their lives by taking medicines themselves. Septic abortion, inappropriate intake of abortion pills, excessive bleeding is common in such cases."
Conservative Mindset: A Carrier of Poor Health And Hygiene
Herbal Expert, Doctor Deepak Acharya says, "In rural areas, the trust and hope still lie in going to the Jholachaap and Tantrik. Women seek cheaper ways and fall prey to unsafe modes of abortion through various remedies suggested by such unauthorized doctors."
"Half and incomplete information and taking action without consulting a gynaecologist can cost one's life. Just like other physical therapies, it is also a common treatment for which women must go to a gynaecologist," he further adds.
Abortion And Law-
A lot of people do not even know about the laws of abortion in India. That abortion is legal in our country but it has certain limitations and conditions. According to the MTP Act (Medical Termination and Pregnancy Act) 1971, abortion is legally permissible in India. However, legally it can only be done for up to 20 weeks of conception. Under these four conditions only abortion is allowed in India -
1. If there is any risk to the life or physical or mental health of the mother due to the continuation of pregnancy
2. If there are any serious abnormalities in the embryo.
3. Conception due to the failure of the contraceptive (but it is applicable only for married women).
4. If pregnancy is the result of sexual harassment or rape, according to the MTP Act, 1971.
Social Stigma And Pressure:
Dr Shazia Siddiqi, a psychologist from Lucknow, says, "Many times, unmarried girls are afraid of defamation. They end up risking their lives by taking help of internet instead of a doctor. Abortion is now common among the young generation, but it has a negative impact on the mind and brain of their body. There is a lack of communication among families, parents."