Abortion in India
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Abortion in India has been legal since 1971.
As per India’s abortion laws only qualified doctors, under stipulated conditions, can perform abortion on a woman in an approved clinic or hospital. The Indian abortion laws fall under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, which was enacted by the Indian Parliament in the year 1971. The MTP Act came into effect from April 1, 1972 and was once amended in 1975. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of India clearly states the conditions under which a pregnancy can be ended or aborted, the persons who are qualified to conduct the abortion and the place of implementation.
Giving or taking prenatal tests, including ultrasound scanning, solely to determine the sex of the fetus was criminalized by Indian law in 1994. In 2002, the penalties were stiffened: up to three years in jail and a Rs. 10,000 fine for the first offense and five years imprisonment and Rs. 50,000 for the second.
According to the Consortium on National Consensus for Medical Abortion in India, every year an average of about 11 million abortions take place annually and around 20,000 women die every year due to abortion related complications. Most abortion-related maternal deaths are attributable to illegal abortions.In the following table Number of abortions reported includes legal reported induced abortions.
|Number of abortions|
Indications for early medical abortion
General condition to be fulfilled
All women coming to a health facility seeking termination of pregnancy up to 7 weeks period of gestation (49 days from the first day of the last menstrual period in women with regular cycle of 28 days) provided the following aspects have been assessed and found appropriate:
- frame of the mind of patient and her acceptability of minimum three follow-up visits
- ready for surgical procedure if failure or excessive bleeding occurs
- family support
- permission of guardian in case of minor as per MTP Act 1971
- easy access to appropriate health care facility
Only registered medical practitioners as prescribed by the MTP Act are authorized to prescribe mifepristone with misoprostol for medical abortion (Definition 2(d) of section 2 and MTP rule 3).Mifepristone with misoprostol for termination of early pregnancy not exceeding seven weeks, may be prescribed by a registered medical practitioner as prescribed under section 2 (d) and rule 3, having access to a place approved by the Government under section 4 (b) and rule (1), for surgical and emergency back-up when such a back-up is indicated.This may include primary health care-clinic or hospital-based set-up. Initial workup, counseling, prescription and administration could be in a clinic or in the consulting room.Home administration of misoprostol may be advised at discretion in certain cases with an access to 24-hours emergency services.
Choice between Medical and Surgical Abortion
- Vacuum Aspiration (Suction evacuation) is the most commonly-used method for termination of early pregnancies. However, being a surgical technique, it is associated with risks of infection, perforation of uterus, incomplete abortion and post-procedure uterine synechiae formation (Asherman's Syndrome).
- The success of abortion with drugs depends on multiple factors including the regimen used,dosage schedule, route of administration and gestational age. However, after counseling, the woman should be allowed to make an informed decision.
- Mifepristone with misoprostol is favourable if pregnancy is = 7 weeks.
- Surgical abortion is preferred if patient desires concurrent tubal ligation.
- If a woman fulfills the criteria for selecting either method, final choice to be given to the woman.
Contraindications for medical abortion
For cases in which a pregnant woman has a serious medical disease and continuation of pregnancy could endanger her life, the Indian MTP act lays a clear guideline under which medical abortion is contraindicated.
Contraindications due to Medical Reasons
- smoking > 35 years
- anemia – hemoglobin < 8 gm %
- suspected /confirmed ectopic pregnancy / undiagnosed adnexal mass
- coagulopathy or women on anticoagulant therapy
- chronic adrenal failure or current use of systemic corticosteroids
- uncontrolled hypertension with BP >160/100mmHg
- cardio-vascular diseases such as angina, valvular disease, arrhythmia
- severe renal, liver or respiratory diseases
- uncontrolled seizure disorder
- allergy or intolerance to mifepristone / misoprostol or other prostaglandins
- lack of access to 24-hours emergency services.
These include the cases in which
- women unable to take responsibility
- anxious women wanting quick abortion
- language or comprehension barrier
- not willing for surgical abortion in case of failure
- ^ "Medical Termination of Pregnancy, 1971". Medindia.com. http://www.medindia.net/Indian_Health_Act/the-medical-termination-of-pregnancy-act-1971-introduction.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
- ^ "Introduction". Consortium on National Consensus for Medical Abortion in India. http://www.aiims.edu/aiims/events/Gynaewebsite/ma_finalsite/introduction.html. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- ^ "Current status of abortion in India". Consortium on National Consensus for Medical Abortion in India. http://www.aiims.ac.in/aiims/events/Gynaewebsite/ma_finalsite/report/1_1_1.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
- ^ Historical abortion statistics, India Historical abortion statistics, India
- ^ Guidelines for Medical Abortion in India
- Katz, Neil S. Abortion in India: Selecting by Gender. 20 May 2006. 1 Jan. 
- Abortion, Femail Infanticide. 3 Jan. 2003. 1 Jan. 
- Medical abortion information for women in Hindi language The International Consortium for Medical Abortion (ICMA) Information Package on Medical Abortion