The police have arrested four doctors from Sangli for allegedly carrying out 107 illegal abortions, in complete violation of government rules on the procedure. The four were apparently terminating pregnancies unlawfully for the past three years.
The case was unearthed during a routine inspection by the Sangil Municipal Corporation on August 21. When officials sought to check records at Shree Maternity and Surgical Hospital, they found that the centre had no documents with regard to the abortions that it had been performing.
According to health department officials, the accused medical practitioners are Dr Sushma Patil, Dr Arjun patil, Dr Santosh Patil and Dr Madhuri Jadhav. The four were produced before a local court which remanded them in one-day police custody.
Civic officials said that the nursing home had a register containing just the names of women who had undergone abortions there. Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 2003, it is mandatory for a hospital/gynaecologist to first obtain a woman's consent (Form C).
The rules also prescribe recording of a doctor's opinion about the patient's health and reasons for abortions (Form 1), informing the government on the number of procedures carried out in a month (Form 2) and maintaining a register containing all these information (Form 3). Violatiors can face criminal proceedings as well as fines.
"In the absence of proper documentation, we have to treat the cases as illegal abortions. The nursing home has been operating since 2011, but had not maintained any records as required under the law. So we lodged a police complaint." said Rohini Kulkarni, medical officer of Sangli Municipal Corporation.
With a sex ratio 929 i.e. for each 1000 male, Maharashtra sits below the national average of 940 as per 2011 census – due to large-scale female foeticides. Sangli is hometown to two political heavyweights – Home minister R R Patil and Patangrao Kadam, who heads the forest ministry.
"We arrested the four doctors after registering a case for violation of MTP Act. We are trying to track down all the 107 women to get more details about the abortions," Said Dilip Sawant, superintendent of police, Sangli.