NEW DELHI: An overwhelmingly large number of Indian women — from 63 per cent in Tamil Nadu to 83 per cent in Uttar Pradesh — end their unwanted pregnancies by using over-the-counter abortion pills bought directly from chemists, rather than going to the doctor.
The midpoint abortion rate per 1,000 women aged 15-49 is the lowest in Tamil Nadu at 32.8 and highest in Assam at 66.2, according to the largest study on abortion in India since 2002.
Titled ‘Abortion and unintended pregnancy in six Indian states: Findings and implications for policies and programs’, the study was carried out by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, New York, International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai, and the Population Council, Delhi.
It focused on one state in each region: Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
The analysis highlights that all recent reports on abortion in India, including the National Family Health Surveys, largely under-reported the problem of unsafe termination of pregnancy.
“This study fills a significant evidence gap on abortions in India as representative information on abortion incidence and access to abortion services in the country have been scarce,” said Susheela Singh, lead researcher and vice-president of the Guttmacher Institute.
“There hasn’t been a study of this size since 2002; and the healthcare and policy context related to abortion has changed a lot since then. For example, use of Medical Methods of Abortion (MMA) through drugs has increased.”