At least one in every four abortions in India was performed by the woman herself at home, whereas nearly 50 per cent of women said the primary reason for seeking an abortion was an unplanned pregnancy, government data for 2019-21 revealed.
The data analysed by News18 pointed out that the share of abortions performed by the woman herself at home has risen by one per cent from the last analysed period of 2015-16.
"The woman herself performed more than one-quarter (27 per cent) of the abortions at home," the National Family Health Survey-5 (NHFS-5) report stated. It added that the practice of self-abortion is much more persistent in rural areas (28.7 per cent) than in cities (22.1 per cent). Further, a doctor is the most preferred person who performs the abortion (in 55 per cent of cases), and it is followed by the woman herself (in 27 per cent of cases).
"Almost half of the females (48 per cent) said that the main reason for seeking an abortion was an unplanned pregnancy, followed by her health did not permit continuing her pregnancy," it added.
In addition, around 10 per cent of women reported that the last kid was too young to have the next birth as the main reason for the abortion, the publication reported.
According to NFHS-4, most abortions were performed in the private health sector (53 per cent), and 20 per cent were completed in the public health sector. The woman herself reportedly performed more than a quarter (26 per cent) of the abortions at home during 2015-16.
Rate Of Abortions In Different States
India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of abortions (34 per cent) that are self-performed, followed by a doctor and nurse/auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM)/lady health visitor (LHV) (nearly 30 per cent each). The two main factors for seeking abortion reported by females were unplanned pregnancy (50 per cent) and complications in pregnancy (14 per cent).
Most abortions were performed at home (39 per cent) and in the private health sector (38 per cent). Another 24 per cent were performed in the public health sector.
In Rajasthan, most abortions were carried out by self (38 per cent) and followed by a doctor (36 per cent). The three main reasons to seek abortion reported by females were unplanned pregnancy (61 per cent), complications during pregnancy and health did not permit (6 per cent each).
In Delhi, the two primary reasons to seek abortion reported by women were unplanned pregnancy (74 per cent) and complications in pregnancy (five per cent). Further, around half (49 per cent) of abortions were done in the private health sector, and 16 per cent were carried out in the public health sector. Further, more than half of the abortions (54 per cent) in Delhi were performed by a doctor.
In Tamil Nadu, the two main reasons to seek abortion reported by women were health conditions (31 per cent) and unplanned pregnancy (30 per cent). A majority (65 per cent) of abortions were carried out in the private health sector, and 26 per cent were done in the public health sector. The majority of the abortions (80 per cent) in the state were performed by a doctor.
Unsafe Abortions Lead To Maternal Death
Unsafe abortion is a significant yet preventable cause of maternal death. Even as the medical termination of pregnancy has been legalised in India since 1971, access to services still poses a challenge, especially in the rural and far-flung areas of the country.
Further, the country's maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is 130/1,00,000 live births. Unsafe abortions account for eight per cent of the MMR. Many of these women who survive these clandestine procedures often suffer from chronic, debilitating ailments that have a bearing on the future reproductive health of the woman.
While there are many policies around safe abortion, lack of awareness that the process is legal and is available in health facilities is among the most common reasons for which women put their lives at risk.
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