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80,000 women die during abortions every year
December 20, 2007 15:38 IST
Around 11 million abortions are carried out in India every year and nearly 80,000 women die during the process, according to an expert.
A majority of abortions are performed by untrained hands and studies suggest that nearly 80,000 women die due to unsafe abortions, Dr Hema Divakar, Chairperson of Federation of Obsteric and Gynecological Societies in India, said.
Stressing the need to promote awareness about emergency contraception methods, she said research shows that 78 per cent of pregnancies in India were unplanned, of which 25 per cent are unwanted, leading to approximately 11 million abortions.
"The level of emergency contraception is abysmally low in India," she said and added that only one out of 100 women was aware of it.
Recent advertisements had fuelled some awareness, but the sale of these contraceptives was yet to pick up, she said.
An emergency contraceptive can prevent pregnancy by over 80 per cent if taken within 72 hours of an intercourse.
However, these pills are to be taken only in an emergency and not as a regular form of contraception, she added.
Clearing misconceptions associated with emergency contraceptives, she said it was not an abortion pill and cannot abort a foetus once pregnancy is established.
The contraceptive acts as an interceptive agent that prevents ovulation, fertilization or implantation depending on the phase of menstrual cycle, Divakar added.
Proper and timely use of the pills can bring down the spiralling unsafe abortions, she said.
Dismissing allegations that emergency contraceptives will lead to an increase in sexual activity among youth, Divakar said, "It will only prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions. In a country like India, where women are not often empowered to take decisions, EC could help in not burdening them with unwanted pregnancies."
Rekha Gogi, Medical Officer, Family Planning Association of India, said promiscuity and sexual activity among youth has always been there. "It is only now that it is coming out in the open."
However, she did agree that pregnancies among unmarried women had been on the rise in the past few years. "The EC will only help in cutting down the number of unsafe abortions that many of these try to resort to when they are pregnant."
Divakar said that flexible job hours, growing presence of call centres and educational institutions have led to an increase in the sexual activity among the youth in Bangalore.