The Hindu has written that the city of New Delhi, India is reporting that 32 women have died since 2008 from abortions performed at government hospitals. These are only registered deaths, however. The information comes from a Right to Information (RTI) reply, which not only confirms the deaths, but that over 50 abortions are carried out daily in hospitals at the Capital.
While the highest amount of deaths for the year, 8, was from 2008-2009 and the lowest amount was from the latest figures from 2013-2014, with 4 deaths, the numbers fluctuate annually. For instance, for 2008-2009, the death toll was cut in half to 4, but then rose again to 5 in 2009-2010.
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.
Also mentioned is that Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) is legal, and is done for “medical grounds.” One such reason given though in which abortion may be legally performed is in the case of “contraceptive failure[.]”
Further, in reasons cited by city doctors, “the most common reasons cited include medical complications, limiting family size, and spacing pregnancies.” It would seem then that India is going down a rather arbitrary road as to what “medical grounds” constitutes, especially when such reasons, “the most common” ones, have to do with social reasons or preferences. The U.S. Supreme Court rulings of Roe and Doe, which said an abortion must be allowed for the health of the mother, and then went on to define health as whatever the woman and her doctor decided. As a result, the Court created a right to abortion on demand, for any reason and throughout all nine months of pregnancy. India should be careful not to go down the same slippery slope.
There is a specific concern for India, however. While investigations from Live Action have proved that sex-selective abortions are happening here in the Untied States as well, the problem is particularly worrisome in nations where there is a cultural preference for boys, namely China and India. While the reasons listed above were “the most common reasons cited[,]” doctors also said that “sex determination could not be completely ruled out as a reason.” That city doctors would admit this much, as well as what we know thus far from investigation and research done, is troubling to the plight unborn females face in the womb.
The media outlet includes a statement from others:
“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.
While The Hindu does seem to fairly report the death toll from abortion, reasons cited, and a concern over sex-selective abortions, these very troubling issues are merely glossed over and the surface has merely been scratched when it comes to the problem, which abortion, legal or otherwise, creates for India’s society, in the present and the future.