Tamil Nadu

Illegal abortions racket in hospital unearthed

An illegal abortions racket was unearthed in a raid on a hospital in Tiruvannamalai on Thursday.

The officials sealed the hospital where a doctor with an MBBS degree has allegedly been performing illegal abortions for the last 10 years.

D. Pandian, joint director of medical and rural health services (in-charge), Tiruvannamalai, said the team comprising health officials of the Central and State governments found several ultrasound reports in Sri Bhuvaneshwari Hospital that was not licensed to perform abortions under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

“We found several prescription papers that had nothing written on them except the signature of patients. We suspect that these prescription papers were the consent forms for abortions,” he said.

“We also found injections and instruments that are used for performing abortions. The hospital is not a licensed centre to perform abortions. The doctor, R. Selvammal, has been practising for several years. She could have been performing abortions at least for the last 10 years, he further said.

The officials informed the deputy director of Family Welfare, Tiruvannamalai, who in turn, sealed the hospital and lodged a complaint with the police, he said, adding “The official will conduct an inquiry into the case. We will have to investigate if the doctor performed sex selective abortions. We will be tightening surveillance to prevent such malpractices. As of now, we inspect scan centres once in three months.”

Following the raid at the hospital, the team sealed three scan centres in Tiruvannamalai.

Navaneetha Dhanalakshmi, deputy director, Family Welfare, Tiruvannamalai, said the hospital was not on their list of licensed hospitals to perform abortions.

“We will be conducting an inquiry,” she said. In 2016, health officials raided an illegal scan centre at a three-storey house in Tiruvannamalai. They arrested a quack, Anandhi, who was running the centre and performing sex selective abortions.

S. Elango, former director of public health and president of Indian Public Health Association, Tamil Nadu branch, said such malpractices became widespread. “During 1999-2000 period, Madurai, Salem, Dindigul, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri were hotspots for female infanticide. It was then that rules and regulations were brought in. Though cases of female infanticide came down, female foeticide started to increase. Female foeticide is not possible without the collusion of doctors and scan centres. This has been increasing in the last 10 years,” he said.

In fact, some scan centres adopted ingenious ways to inform parents on the sex of the foetus.

“They cleverly used nicknames. They told parents to come on Monday, meaning male, or Friday, meaning female using the first letters to indicate the sex of the foetus,” he said.

“Though the PCPNDT Act has provisions for punishment/penalty for violators, its enforcement is poor. A separate department should be created for enforcing PCPNDT Act. As of now, it is the additional responsibility for a joint director or deputy director. But like the Food Safety department, a separate unit should be created for the Act’s implementation. Otherwise, it will be a toothless law,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 3:32:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/illegal-abortions-racket-in-hospital-unearthed/article22639074.ece

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