The city has reported over a lakh medical termination of pregnancy and 32 registered deaths due to abortions in its government hospitals since 2008. This has been revealed in a Right to Information reply that confirms that over 50 termination of pregnancy is carried out daily in the Capital.
While there is no data on how many of those undergoing abortions are minors or unmarried women/girls; deaths during abortions – carried out in government hospitals – have never dipped to anything less than four women a year since 2008.
The applicant, R. H. Bansal, in his query to the Delhi Health Department had asked about the number of abortions happening in the State government hospitals year-wise since 2008. He also sought information on how many of the abortions performed were legal, where those who got the abortions were married, unmarried or minors, and the number of deaths caused due to abortions.
While Health Department said that they “did not have information on the martial status and age of those who got abortion done at its hospitals”, they have given data on the number of abortions and deaths caused since 2008.
The data reveals that the number of the legally-terminated pregnancies in government facilities has remained in thousands each year and from 2008 to 2014 over a lakh abortions have been carried out.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) is legal and it allows abortion on medical grounds, including abnormalities in the foetus, contraceptive failure, and risk to the mother's physical and mental health.
Rajhans Bansal, the activist who filed the RTI, warned that while the number of the legal abortions taking place in government hospitals is high, “the government should put in place checks and balances to ensure that people should not use medical grounds as an alibi for sex-selective abortion”.
City doctors said that for MTP patients the most common reasons cited include medical complications, limiting family size, and spacing pregnancies. But, they said sex determination could not be completely ruled out as a reason.
“We cannot rule out that sex-selective abortions happen in small clinics in the city and nursing homes which operate illegally,” said Delhi Medical Association member Anil Bansal, who has been campaigning against quacks in the city.
He said that government-run institutions cannot carry out illegal abortions. “There are several checks and balances at every level to prevent or encourage such practice,” he added.
The Medical Council of India has, meanwhile, through a notice, stated that the general public as well as those working in the area of medical care should inform the medical council concerned in case they come across any unethical act or medical misconduct (commission/cuts/advertisements/illegal abortions/unnecessary investigation, and nexus with drug companies). “Medical councils should immediately approach and lodge a complaint with the appropriate medical council,” the notice said.