The number of women are dying after legal abortions in India is alarming. The Times of India reports that 114 women’s deaths were reported as a result of abortions at registered health centers between 2010 and October 2015 in the Mumbai region.
The highest number of women’s deaths to abortion were in 2010 and 2012 with 27 and 35 women’s deaths, according to the report. In 2014 and 2015, 15 deaths were reported each year.
The statistics are doubly concerning because some experts believe many of the women who died were coerced into aborting their unborn babies against their will.
“Mostly, it is the husband or in-laws, not the woman, who decides about terminating the pregnancy, often causing a fatal delay,” said assistant director Dr. N.D. Deshmukh from the Indian directorate of health services. Later-term abortions are more dangerous to the mother.
Unreported deaths may be related to poor medical care in rural areas and the “quacks” and midwives who many Indian women turn to for abortions, Dr. Arun Gadre, a retired gynecologist who now works in health advocacy in India, told the news outlet.
Gadre pointed out that problems also may be a result of chemical abortion drugs being used in the first trimester without medical supervision. In the U.S., at least 14 women died after using the chemical abortion drug RU-486. The complication rate from chemical abortions is high.
Another official blamed the women’s deaths on reduced “access to safe abortions” after the government began cracking down on discriminatory sex-selection abortions. Though illegal, sex-selection abortions are common in India in the second trimester because of a cultural preference for male children.
“Skilled doctors are afraid to conduct abortions in the second trimester, fearing coercive action if the child happens to be a girl,” said Pritam Potdar, of NGO Samyak, an organization that works with urban poor women.
As LifeNews previously reported, women are often abused and forced to have sex-selection abortions in India even though they are illegal. For example, in 2012, an Indian woman was nearly beaten to death by her husband and in-laws to induce a miscarriage because she was thought to be pregnant with a girl.
Experts believe the number of women dying from abortions is even higher than the 114 reported, but many deaths related to abortion go unreported. The report also fails to recognize the babies whose lives were intentionally taken in the abortions.