India: State Governments Crack Down on Sex Selection Abortion and Abortion Pills

Editor’s note. The following comes from the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues at http://www.pncius.org/

The Maharashtra Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has cracked down on doctors and pharmacists dispensing “medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) kits” in an effort to curb sex-selection abortion. In response to the state FDA’s actions, many distributers have pulled the drugs from the market, creating a shortage of abortion-inducing pills. Doctors suggest 90 percent of abortions in India are done with MTP drugs, and while abortion is legal, sex-selection abortion is not. Recent reports have shown the practice of sex-selection abortion is still very common in the Beed district of Maharashtra, leading to the closing of several illegal abortion clinics. Similarly, the Allahabad high court has directed the state of Uttar Pradesh to take additional steps to curb the worsening gender imbalance.

The wide-spread availability of MTP kits indicates a high rate of self-induced abortions, posing serious risks to women of all ages, including adolescents. News reports have highlighted the rising use of abortion drugs among young adults. Gokul Chandra Das, head of gynecology and obstetrics at Gauhati Medical College and Hospitals (GMCH), explained the need for MTP drugs to be taken under medical supervision due to the risks of anemia and excessive bleeding during menstruation.  “Unlike emergency contraceptive pills, MTP kits are not sold at the counters of chemist shops as these have to be taken under medical supervision. This has not deterred the youngsters from buying them. There is very little awareness about the use of such kits causing infertility if used regularly for a long period of time,” he said.