66% abortions in India unsafe, reveals study

In an indication of how rampant unsafe abortions have become, a study has revealed that of the 6.5 million abortions registered in India in 2008, 66% were deemed unsafe, reports Kounteya Sinha


India’s 6.5 million cases formed a major chunk of the 10.5 million abortions recorded in south and central Asia. According to the latest figures released by WHO and Guttmacher Institute, New York, and published in The Lancet, while India recorded 41.6 million abortions in 2003, the number increased to 43.8 million in 2008.

Unsafe abortions have become rampant in India. The country recorded 6.5 million abortions in 2008 of which 66% or two-thirds were deemed unsafe. India also recorded the major chunk of abortions that took place in south and central Asia— 6.5 million of the total 10.5 million.

In this region, for every one lakh abortions, 200 women died of it. These are the findings of the latest global abortion figures released by the World Health Organization along with Guttmacher Institute, New York.

Published in the medical journal “The Lancet” on Thursday, the study says there were 2.2 million more abortions in 2008 (43.8 million) as compared to 2003 (41.6 million). Globally, the abortion rate was 28 per 1,000, virtually unchanged since 2003.

However, the proportion of abortions deemed unsafe rose from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008. Abortions in the developing world have increased from 78% of all abortions in 1995 to 86% by 2008. Since 2003, the number of abortions fell by 0.6 million in the developed world, but increased by 2.8 million in developing countries.

Speaking to TOI from London, lead author Dr Gilda Sedgh from the Guttmacher Institute, said, “Abortion is legal in India and the services are much safer that many other developing countries. But for some reason, women choosing to abort are not taking advantage of this liberal law. They are also getting abortions done in unsafe clinics. That is why a good measure of abortions in India are unsafe.” She added, “There is a tremendous need for the country’s family planning programme to spread awareness for safe abortions and also push for increased use of contraception and the use of safe abortion services.”

According to her, 13% of all maternal deaths in the south and central Asia region are due to unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortion is defined by the WHO as a procedure for terminating a pregnancy that is performed by an individual lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both.

The estimated worldwide proportion of pregnancies that end in abortion has been fairly stable over time, at 22% in 1995, 20% (2003) and 21% (2008). In the developed world, abortion declined as a proportion of all pregnancies from 36% in 1995 to 26% in 2008. It held steady at 19%–20% of pregnancies in the developing world.

Source: TNN

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