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You Ought To Know

  • Abortion should be performed in a registered hospital or clinic.
  • It is to be performed by qualified medical personnel trained and certified for the purpose.
  • Abortion performed by an untrained practitioner in an unsuitable environment may endanger the life of a woman.
  • Abortion can be safely performed during early weeks of pregnancy, usually within first 12 weeks.

What is abortion ?

What are the causes for abortion?

What is spontaneous abortion ?

What is Induced Abortion?

Where are abortions performed legally?

Who can perform abortion under the MTP Act?

Methods of abortion- What is non-surgical abortion?

What are the psychological consequences of abortion?

Here is a story of a young girl. Read it and reflect –

“When I was young, I felt it myself that it was wrong to kill a baby”, says Jaya but when she turned 16, this is what happened to her-

“Jaya, lived in Rhotak and worked as a babysitter in a wealthy household, where Suraj who was a couple of years older than her, also worked as a driver. They fell in love and dreamt of getting married and living happily ever after. They got physically involved and Jaya missed her periods for 2 months. Every morning, she experienced nausea and actually got very sick. The mistress of the house realized Jaya was pregnant and beat her up. She quickly informed Jaya’a parents, who also thrashed the girl. Jaya’s father even threatened to kill her because she had blackened the family name. Suraj meanwhile had quietly left the house when the pregnancy was discovered. Jaya was traumatized and very distressed. Without a partner she did not know how to deal with the situation.”

What should she do?Where should she go?


What is abortion?

The term abortion has been derived from the Latin word abortio, which means, “that which is miscarried”.

Abortion is defined as the expulsion of products of conception before the 28th week of gestation (weighing 500 grams) after which the foetus become capable of living independently, that is surviving outside the womb. There are two types of abortion: spontaneous, and induced abortion.

Causes for abortion

A few causes for abortion are-

· Unmarried mothers who feel that having a child is unacceptable.

· An unmarried mother abandoned by her partner.

· Adolescents who are not mature enough to raise a child.

· Parents who are financially unable to support the child.

· Families with too many children.

· Women in abusive situations unsuitable to rearing a child.


What is spontaneous abortion?

Spontaneous abortion is defined as the sudden, involuntary expulsion of the embryo or fetus from the uterus before it is capable of independent life. It often occurs during the first month of pregnancy and in many cases, the woman does not realize that she had been pregnant. It may also be called a miscarriage.

Some of the factors that may be responsible for spontaneous abortion may include:

· Foetal factors, including, chromosomal abnormalities, abnormality of the ovum and that of placenta;

· Maternal factors, that is, diseases like malaria, typhoid, high fever; chronic infections like syphilis and chronic medical diseases of the mother like hypertension, hyperthyroidism and

· Biosocial factors, such as, trauma.


What is Induced Abortion?

An induced abortion is the purposeful termination of a pregnancy before the embryo or fetus is capable of sustaining independent life. It can be performed safely if the foetus is less than 12 weeks. However, if the pregnancy exceeds 12 weeks and is less than 20 weeks, then the opinion of the 2 doctors is essential.

Clinical abortions are offered in certain areas where it is legal and under the care of a physician. With properly trained medical providers and suitable environment, clinical abortion is a very safe procedure.

Abortion is called legal if the law of the country permits it. We have something called the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP) that specifies certain conditions under which pregnancies can be terminated. The Act also specifies the persons who can perform such a job, and the place where such terminations can be performed.

MTP is permitted up to 20th week of gestation. A written consent of guardian is necessary before performing an abortion if woman is less than 18 years of age and is lunatic older than 18 years.

An induced abortion can be performed under the following grounds:

Grounds Description

· Medical grounds
A woman can go for an abortion when the continuation of pregnancy can cause grave injury to her physical and mental health

· Eugenic grounds
Where there is a serious risk of the child being born with serious handicaps, deformities and anomalies

· Humanitarian grounds
When the pregnancy is caused by rape, violence and other forms of sexual abuse

· Failure of contraceptive devices An abortion on the grounds of “contraceptive failure”, that is when the contraceptive fails to work. And there are no contraceptives, which are 100 percent effective.

Where Can Abortions be performed legally?

Abortions can be performed legally in government registered hospitals or clinics established and maintained for the purpose.


Who can perform the abortions under the MTP Act?

A trained medical doctor having gynaecological or obstetric specialisation and experience can perform the abortion. Back street abortions or quacks must be avoided. If experts do not carry out abortion, complications may occur leading to lifelong sterility and sometimes-even death.

Methods of abortion

Clinical abortion procedures include RU486 (tablets), vacuum aspiration technique and dilation and evacuation techniques. In all these methods, the chances of complications are less and so are the maternal mortality rates. This is because such procedures are supervised or performed under sanitary conditions by a trained physician capable of dealing with emergency situations.

Is abortion possible by tablets (Non-Surgical Abortion)?

Yes, there are a few clinics in India providing non-surgical abortion by tablets only in some metro cities. Many a times women prefer non-surgical abortions even when vacuum aspiration is one of the safe surgical methods. RU-486 is an abortion pill that maybe safely used and the supporters argue that it offers a safe, non-evasive substitute for more costly and unpleasant abortion procedures. However, the drug may vary in the effects that it has on different people and therefore should not be taken without consulting an expert physician.

How effective is a non-surgical abortion?

· The most important factor for a successful non-surgical abortion is the early detection and confirmation of pregnancy.

· You should be tested for a suspected pregnancy within 7-10 days after the day you miss your period. If you are pregnant and the pregnancy is unplanned, it is up to you to make the decision. (see pregnancy test kit)

· Abortion using RU486 is performed for pregnancies up to seven (7) weeks since the last normal menstrual period. For some women this method may be used up to nine (9) weeks.

· Medical abortion is 97% effective in completely emptying the uterus.

· The risks of complications such as uterine injuries, perforation and infections, are reduced with non-surgical abortion, or completely eliminated.

Why do some women opt for unsafe abortion?

· When pregnancy results out of wedlock. Given the social restriction on adolescent sexuality and cultural non-acceptance of premarital pregnancy, adolescents fear ostracization.

· They seek abortion late and secretly in an unsafe place.

· In many cases, a woman does not have the power to refuse intercourse and become pregnant soon after marriage. She might resort to abortion secretly by untrained people.

· Moreover, legal abortion services may not be available in the vicinity of many women and if they are available, they do not provide confidentiality. In such cases women might resort to unsafe abortion.


What are the Psychological Consequences of Abortion?

Whether to have an abortion is typically a painful decision-perhaps a most difficult decision, a woman would ever take, Even women who apparently make the decision without any hesitation may later have feelings of guilt, remorse, anger and sadness. Women’s reactions depend on various factors, including the support they receive from others and the strength of their relationships with their partners. Women with greater support from their parents and male partners tend to show a more positive emotional reaction after an abortion. Generally speaking, the sooner the abortion occurs, the less stressful it is. Women who have a difficult time reaching the abortion decision, who blame the pregnancy on their character, who have lower coping ability and who have less social support experience more distress following abortion.


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