Aadhaar, a problem for women seeking abortions
The woman could not undergo an ultra sonography (USG) as she could not furnish her Aadhaar card.
The linking of Aadhaar to seek abortion services poses risk of life to the life of a woman, doctors at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) at Chandigarh have stated. According to the latest paper published in British Medical Journal (BMJ), a 28-year-old housemaid was forced to seek services from an unqualified quack after being turned away by the government hospital at Chandigarh, because she did not have an Aadhaar card.
After having not menstruated for two-and-a-half months, she realised she was pregnant and visited a government dispensary. Weighing 45 kilos, the woman already had three children.
The woman could not undergo an ultra sonography (USG) as she could not furnish her Aadhaar card. She asked the government doctor to provide her with an oral abortion drug, but she was refused that without a USG. She was then directed to a private diagnostic centre for a USG but it was too expensive. One can get an abortion in a private centre without furnishing Aadhaar card. But, she needed the consent of her husband who would not approve. "A week later, she came back to the clinic where I was posted, profusely bleeding. Her heart rate and blood pressure had gone awry," said Dr Sudip Bhattacharya, author of the BMJ paper.
She had visited an unqualified local physician after being refused abortion services at the government hospital. The quack had conducted the abortion very poorly, and she had to undergo hospitalisation and had to be transfused blood to recover.
The housemaid had earlier also had two induced abortions, without the knowledge of the husband, a daily wager who was against abortion and also against using any form of contraception to prevent pregnancy.
The present case, however, represents only the tip of the iceberg, as many such incidents occurring in daily practice remain unnoticed and undocumented.
India’s maternal mortality is 239 deaths of pregnant women per 1,00,000 live births, as compared to those of developed countries that have 12 per 1,00,000 live births. Linking of Aadhaar for seeking abortion services is just adding more woes to a poor woman’s plight, the BMJ paper argues.
Bureaucratic procedures like this act as impediments for a woman to access safe abortion services, it says.
“Our patient also initially sought safe abortion services from a government hospital, but was denied because of bureaucratic restrictions, including the requirement for proof of identity and her husband’s signature. on certain proforma before she could even be registered as a patient. This case demonstrates how as far as poor people are concerned, the approach to safe abortion services in India can be described as ‘one step forward and two steps backward’,” Dr Bhattacharya said.
“Paradoxically, the access of underprivileged women to safe abortion services has been reduced in India, despite societal modernisation and technological advances.There is an urgent need to remove the bureaucratic bottlenecks (procedural barriers) hindering the access of unfortunate women to safe abortion services.”
- Linking of AADHAR for seeking abortion services is just adding more woes to a poor woman’s plight, the BMJ paper argues.
- 4.2 crore women with unintended pregnancies undergo induced abortions worldwide
- 50% procedures are unsafe and 68,000 women are dying of unsafe abortion
- India’s maternal mortality is 239 deaths of pregnant women per 1,00,000 live births, as compared to those of developed countries that have 12 per 1,00,000 live births.