சட்டபூர்வமான, பாதுகாப்பான கருக்கலைப்பு வசதிகளை அரசு ஏற்படுத்தித் தரவேண்டும்
மகளிர் நல மேம்பாட்டு அமைச்சர் ஸ்மிருதி இரானியிடம் இன்று நான் அளித்த வேண்டுகோள் கடிதம்
Mrs Smriti Irani
Hon’ble Minister of Women and Child Development,
Government of India, New Delhi
Sub: Measures to ensure access to safe, legal abortion.
On 29 September 2022, the Supreme Court, in the case of X v. The Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Anr held that declared that all women have the right to safe and legal abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, no matter their marital status. An abortion regulation that made a distinction between married and unmarried women was “artificial and constitutionally unsustainable,” according to the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala, and AS Bopanna. Now, all women in the country, regardless of marital status, can undergo an abortion up to 24 weeks into pregnancy.
Yet, it is unlikely that many parts of India are aware of this legal development. This would lead to continued lack of access to safe and legal abortions to a significant part of India, which would be a massive injustice and failure of the India envisioned by the landmark Supreme Court judgment mentioned above. Judgments by courts do not by themselves create tangible change. Especially in cases like this, it is when the government puts the judgment into practice that it gains practical value. It is thus imperative that the Ministry of Women and Child Development take steps to ensure that there is extensive, proper, widespread awareness in all parts of the country - from the cities to the villages of India - that access to legal and safe abortion is now a right of every women, regardless of marital status. There must be brochures present at every Primary Health Centre (PHCs) in the regional languages explaining in a detailed and simple manner the process of abortion, its implications and how to care for yourself during and after the procedure, among other things.
Even if there was widespread awareness about the right of all women to safe and legal abortion for all women, there is no use as long as safe, medical abortion remains inaccessible to women. According to the World Poverty Clock, over 5.1 crore people in India live in ‘extreme poverty’. It is thus safe to assume that a significant population of India’s whopping 140 crores needs access to abortion through government hospitals, and most importantly, the PHCs. It is requested that the Ministry for Women and Child Development ensure that the PHCs are equipped to perform the procedure or at least that there is no less than one government hospital within a 25 km radius everywhere that can provide safe abortion.
Unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal mortality in India, and close to 8 women die from causes related to unsafe abortions each day, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s State of the World Population Report 2022. Between 2007-2011, 67 per cent of abortions in India were classified as unsafe. One in seven unintended pregnancies in the world take place in India. The unintended pregnancies, and subsequent abortions, are intimately linked with the overall development of the country. This is why it is crucial that awareness about and access to safe and legal abortion be provided.
However, access to safe abortion is not complete unless the access is non-judgmental and non-discriminatory. It is therefore crucial that a certified professional can explain to people seeking an abortion the above mentioned things and provide support before, after and during the procedure. These professionals need to be trained and sensitised so that they do not judgment people seeking abortion from their own moral standpoint and also do discriminate in who gets the treatment or in their behaviour towards them.
It is requested that the abovementioned suggestions be taken into consideration while devising an extensive mechanism to ensure safe and legal abortions to all women by liasing with various stakeholders at each level.
Dr D. Ravikumar