Here’s everything you need to know about getting an abortion in India
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 10, 2023
Abortion, simply put, refers to the termination of a pregnancy. However, any woman will tell you that it is far more complex and emotionally challenging than just a medical procedure.
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Though the concept of a woman’s right to decide what happens to her body is gaining recognition, abortion still remains a taboo in our society. The truth is, whether or not to opt for an abortion is a deeply personal decision. In the event of an unwanted pregnancy, it is advisable to seek help from a government registered clinic or hospital with qualified and experienced doctors.
Medical Procedures for Abortion
The Oral Method
If your pregnancy is less than six weeks, you have the option of undergoing an abortion through the oral method. This involves taking specific pills under medical supervision. Within a few hours, you will start experiencing bleeding, resulting in the termination of the pregnancy. However, be prepared for severe cramping and several days of bleeding. It is recommended to take time off from work to manage the bleeding and allow yourself time to recover. Seek medical attention if you experience heavy bleeding, dizziness, sweating, or unbearable discomfort.
The Suction Method
This method is used during the first trimester (up to 12 weeks) or early part of the second trimester (up to 16 weeks) of pregnancy. It involves gently suctioning out the fetus from the uterus. The procedure is usually quick, but you may need to stay at the hospital or clinic for proper monitoring and to ensure the abortion is complete and safe.
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) Method
The D&E method is employed for pregnancies in the second trimester. It involves dilating the cervix to allow for the removal of the fetus using forceps. This procedure can cause pain and discomfort, so it’s important to take proper rest and allow yourself time to recover afterwards.
The Legalities of Abortion in India
To understand the legal framework surrounding abortion in India, we spoke to Madhuri Bakshi, an Advocate and Chairperson of the Local Complaints Committee (LCC) in Faridabad. According to her:
“The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP) allows legal abortions only under certain conditions. These include cases where the continuation of pregnancy poses a risk to the life of the mother, causes grave injury to her physical or mental health, involves severe abnormalities in the fetus, or occurs as a result of sexual assault, rape, or contraceptive failure.”
However, she also points out that one major shortcoming of the MTP is the restriction on termination beyond 20 weeks, which is only allowed when it is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman and not in cases of severe fetal abnormality. Amendments to the MTP have been proposed to remove the upper gestational limit for abortions in cases of fetal abnormalities diagnosed by a medical board.
We also spoke to Aarnima Shah, an advocate, who highlighted the upcoming amendments to the MTP:
“The passing of the MTP Bill in the Lok Sabha in 2020 has brought about a positive change. India is now aligned with progressive countries in terms of protecting the reproductive rights of women. Under the new law, the right to medical termination of pregnancy has been extended to 24 weeks. Termination can be carried out with the medical opinion of a registered medical practitioner for up to 20 weeks. Between 20 and 24 weeks, the opinion of two medical practitioners is required in cases of pregnancy due to rape, incest, or for differently-abled women and minors. There is no upper limit for abortion in cases of fetal abnormalities diagnosed by a Medical Board. The new law also recognizes the failure of contraceptives as a valid reason for abortion, not only for married women but also for unmarried women.”
It is worth noting that the new law places great emphasis on the privacy of women, with medical practitioners being liable for up to one year of imprisonment and fines for disclosing a woman’s name and medical history.
Although these changes to the MTP are welcome, it is important to recognize that abortion laws in India are still evolving. There is a need for comprehensive dialogue to provide women with autonomy over their bodies, reduce social stigma, and provide proper education on the subject.
Obtaining an abortion in India is a complex process. While it is legal under certain circumstances, the real challenge lies in finding non-judgmental medical guidance. We hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with valuable information. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.