“Abortion in India: 4 Important Myths and Facts”

Contents of This Post:

While access to safe and legal abortion is crucial for reproductive health and autonomy, myths and misconceptions continue to create confusion and stigma. Let’s debunk some common myths surrounding abortion in India with their facts and explanations.

Myth 1: Abortion in India is only acceptable in cases of rape or incest.

Fact:

Safe and legal abortion is accessible to all individuals in several situations. And that too, regardless of personal circumstances.

Explanation:

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 2020, allows abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy on various grounds. These include health risks, economic considerations, and personal choice. And up to 20 weeks, abortion in India is legal for reasons like contraceptive failure.

In addition, a woman can obtain a safe and legal abortion in India if any fetal deformity presents in prenatal diagnosis.

Moreover, a woman can obtain a legal abortion in India with her sole consent. Also, she does not need the consent of her spouse or parents if she is an adult. In addition, even unmarried women can obtain a legal abortion in India under the same circumstances.

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Myth 2: Only married women can access abortion services.

Fact:

Marital status does not restrict access to abortion in India.

Explanation:

The MTP Act does not require marital status verification for seeking abortion services. Any individual, regardless of marital status, has the right to access safe and legal abortion care.

Myth 3: Self-administering abortion pills is safe and easy.

Fact:

Self-administering abortion pills without medical supervision can be dangerous. It can lead to incomplete abortion, infections, and complications.

Explanation:

Medical supervision is crucial to ensure correct dosage, monitor potential side effects, and address any complications promptly. Always seek qualified healthcare professionals for abortion care.

abortion in India

Myth 4: Abortion is dangerous and can lead to infertility.

Fact:

Safe and legal abortion performed by qualified healthcare providers carries minimal risks. So, a safe abortion does not impact future fertility.

Explanation:

Medical and surgical abortions under professional supervision have high success rates and minimal complications. Studies show no link between safe abortion and future fertility issues.

Ectopic Pregnancy and Infertility:

However, self-administration of abortion pills can leave a case of ectopic pregnancy undetected. So, an ectopic pregnancy can rupture anytime. This will necessitate an emergency medical surgery to remove the pregnancy tissue and also the fallopian tube and attached ovary if the rupture was in the tube. Moreover, most of the ectopic pregnancies are tubal. Hence, if they go undetected and rupture, the immediate surgery will decide the future fertility.

So, the loss of fertility in such cases can range from partial to complete. However, when speaking of a safe medical abortion after ruling out ectopic pregnancy and when prescribed by a registered medical practitioner, abortion will usually not result in future fertility.

ectopic pregnancy AHB

Unsafe manual abortion and infertility:

In addition, an unsafe abortion at the hands of a quack can also impact a woman’s future fertility. How? See, an unsafe manual abortion may use sharp tools (which may or may not be authentic). Also, can you trust a non-qualified and untrained person to perform the abortion safely? So, there is a risk of internal injury. Injury to your reproductive tract may also lead to infertility. The loss again may be partial to complete.

Hygiene and infertility:

In some other cases as well, can you expect an unprofessional to be using sterile tools for pregnancy tissue evacuation? Can you trust his/her use of hygiene and safe abortion practices? And do you think that an unhygienic abortion can lead to infertility? Let’s talk a little about this too.

Most of the readers may know that unhygienic practices anywhere, including medical services can lead to infections. They can introduce bacteria, viruses, fungi and other forms of microbes into the biological system. This is very true even with an unhygienic abortion. But how can it lead to infertility?

Although it may not directly make a woman infertile, it can make a woman a patient of chronic Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). And, PID, my friend, can make it difficult for a woman to conceive in future.

An abortion in India story to take a lesson from:

Here’s an instance, an extract from one of the patients interviewed who was unable to conceive for long.

One story: Many lessons to learn from:

My first mistake: Unsafe abortion in India:

“I was 19 when I learnt that I am pregnant. Being unmarried, I was very nervous about my situation. Although I married the same person two years later, that incident changed my life forever. After learning about my pregnancy, my partner offered me abortion pills. And without any second thought, I took as was directed by the shop owner from whom he bought those medicines.

Two days later, I started to bleed very heavily. And I was with my partner at that time. He thought it was normal in the beginning. At that particular moment, I did not realize anything. What was going on with me? I was in very bad pain and drenched in blood. Within a few minutes, I got unconscious. 

Now, my partner didn’t know what to do. Since abortion pills were procured without any prescription, he was scared of taking me to a hospital. With a few friends, he managed to take me to a back alley to a quack. This quack had an illegal abortion centre at his home.”

The Second mistake:

“I was lying unconscious and hence, didn’t know what was going on. After a few minutes of tests, a drip of dextrose and a few injections, I gathered my senses. When I woke up, to my surprise, I was in such an unhygienic place with a bad smell suffocating me. On asking my partner, he told me that he brought me here when I fell unconscious.

The next few minutes were so heavy for me. I was told that I had undergone surgery because of incomplete abortion. The doctor has attempted a manual evacuation. Since the environment was suffocating me, we left the hospital soon.

The following day, I was shivering with a fever which was more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. My partner reached out to the same doctor. He prescribed a few antibiotics and pain relievers after which I felt better. But, the recovery was short-lived. After a few days of bleeding, there was a white discharge from my vaginal orifice and it smelled bad. It continued and the smell grew worse. It was also difficult for me to pee.

After a lot of treatments that went on for nearly two years, I was still living the same reality. In the meanwhile, I got married too. But this happiness and my health was short-lived again. Every time, I took medicines, I got better and the same things repeated again and again at a stretch of 2-3 months.

Now, it was almost three years of my marriage. And there was a huge pressure from the family for a child. I also wanted a child now. However, I was unable to conceive even after so many attempts.”

Abortion in India

A friend’s advice:

“One night after a get-together, I was with a friend of mine. A little chitchat between school friends got long and elaborate through the night. I told her about my situation and what I had been going through. She listened to me patiently and without judgment. Not only this, she offered to take me to the city’s best gynecologist.

In the next week, I went to see the doctor with her. The doctor was also very good and heard all I had to say patiently and without judging me. This was a sigh of relief. I always refrained from visiting a good doctor fearing how I would tell about what happened and what I have been through. But, to my relief, the doctor was really sweet.

She asked me to undergo a few routine blood and urine examinations and an ultrasound. After an ultrasound, she doubted something and asked me to have it again, this time in 3-D to get a clear picture. And she was right. After the reports, she diagnosed me with PID and also a few adhesions and scarring from an unsafe abortion attempt. She also told me that my uterus had become bicornuate.

It was not easy for me to swallow so much. Thanks to the doctor and my friend who were there for me at that time. The doctor told me that it is difficult for me to conceive but there are still chances if I first take care of my health.”

A doctor’s advice:

“The doctor prescribed me a few medicines. It included some oral medicines and some vaginal pessaries in addition to a few physical exercises. She told me to wait for a few months before trying to conceive because the fetus’s health is directly proportional to the mother’s health. Only a healthy womb can sustain a healthy life.

I did as was advised to do, following all the instructions meticulously. And after a few months, my infection got much better. The infectious reproductive tract was like a nightmare for me. But, it soon started changing. With this, my relationship with my partner also got better which was very disturbing because of so many things going on altogether.

And today, I am a mother of two beautiful girls and a happy and confident woman free from PID. I thank God, the doctor and my friend for this life they have blessed me with.”

Why I am sharing this story?

I believe that many women and girls out there may be in similar situations to me. So, I want them to learn from my mistakes and my experiences. That’s why I am sharing my story on this platform.

Here are a few things, I want you to take as a message home.

  • Firstly, if two pink lines on a home pregnancy test startle you, do not panic. Whether you are married or unmarried, abortion in India is legal. So, do not worry. And do not act in haste. Do not take abortion pills without consulting a doctor. Instead, visit a registered abortion clinic near you.
  • Have a thorough consultation with the doctor for abortion and let him/her know about what you are going through. Trust your doctor and respect his/her advice.
  • Do not skip any relevant tests. Just in case I had taken abortion pills for an ectopic pregnancy. The slight possibility of my future motherhood could have gone in vain. So, do not take abortion pills unless your doctor evaluates your medical condition and gives a green flag that you are eligible for medical abortion.
  • Never go to a quack. Seek timely care even in case of any emergency or complication. Help at registered hospitals is also available. Do not fear, instead seek out a safe abortion.
  • Finally, please take care of your health. Some losses are irreversible. And you never know, what is coming ahead.

We intend to empower you with accurate information on abortion in India! Remember, knowledge is power, and making informed choices begins with accurate information.

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