Registration software helps unearth illegal abortions in Tiruvannamalai

A PHC medical officer, as a matter of procedure asked a Village Health Nurse to visit a registered woman who did not turn up for antenatal check-up for 8 weeks

Updated - December 03, 2021 08:42 am IST

Published - May 29, 2019 10:47 pm IST - TIRUVANNAMALAI

Image for representation purpose only.

Image for representation purpose only.

Every pregnant woman has to register on software PICME (Pregnancy and Infant Cohort Monitoring and Evaluation) in Tamil Nadu. It was one such registration in the Kadaladi Primary Health Centre (PHC) that helped district officials zero in on illegal abortions in Tiruvannamalai town.

When one registered woman did not turn up for her antenatal check-up for eight weeks, the PHC’s medical officer asked the Village Health Nurse (VHN) to meet her — a common procedure when pregnant women do not arrive for check-up.

“The VHN found that the woman had undergone an abortion, but was unable to get any details from her about the procedure. The medical officer reported the incident to us, and we decided to use the details of her antenatal registration to find out what had happened,” Collector K.S. Kandasamy said. He was not immediately able to confirm the gestational age of the mother.


The first lead

The woman’s mobile number registered on PICME gave the district and police officials the lead. “We decided to trace her call records. Her phone had never been switched off in the last six to seven months. But it was turned off on a particular day that fell during the week, and it struck us that it could be the day she underwent the abortion. We looked up the calls made the previous day, and picked the last call made by her relative, Kutty,” M.R. Sibi Chakravarthi, Superintendent of Police, said.


Kutty, on questioning, told the police that the woman took an ultrasound scan at a centre in Tirukoilur and found that the foetus was a girl. This was her third pregnancy, and her first two children were girls. “She decided to abort the foetus. Kutty informed her about a quack, Kavitha, who performed an abortion on his wife six months ago,” he said.

In fact, the scan centre at Tirukoilur was sealed recently after violations of the Pre-Conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (PCRNDT) Act were noticed. Kutty informed the police about the clinic run by Kavitha and her husband Prabhu. The couple had set up the illegal clinic behind a grocery store on Girivalam Path in the town.

“We solved the case in seven days. We raided the clinic on Monday evening, and later sealed it. Both Kavitha, and Prabhu who direct pregnant women to her, were arrested and remanded,” he said.

Not the first

Mr. Kandasamy said they inquired with the shopkeepers near the illegal clinic. “They told us that two or three women entered the grocery store every day and went out only after two to three hours. Kavitha, who has studied till class 10, has been performing illegal abortions for 10 years,” he said.


But this is not the first time officials have unearthed illegal abortions or sealed scan centres violating the PCPNDT Act in Tiruvannamalai.

There have been quite a few such instances in the district.

However, the Collector said that they were periodically monitoring scan centres in the district.

Abortion pills seized

Meanwhile, officials of the Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services said abortion pills were seized during the raid.

“We found no ultrasound scan machine. There was no evidence of illegal abortions, but the police has been monitoring the quack for sometime,” an official said.

What’s PICME

Pregnancy and Infant Cohort Monitoring and Evaluation (PICME) is a project implemented by the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. It is mandatory for pregnant women to register themselves on PICME. K. Kolandaswamy, director of Public Health, said this registration helped track and monitor pregnant women. “If a pregnant woman is due for check up and does not turn up, the software automatically throws up the detail, and our health staff visit her. After delivery, it also monitors the vaccination status of the baby. We have also linked it to the Civil Registration System to issue birth certificates,” he said.

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