Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by removing the fetus from the woman’s body before it reaches the stage of viability (when a fetus becomes independent to live within 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy). The term Abortion has been up for debate in society for decades. The laws adopted for termination of pregnancy in India has also left some loopholes for women and has been criticized constantly by Feminists.
Abortion is legal as well as criminalized in India, and all the clauses for its criminalization have been defined in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.
The word “Abortion” has not been used in the MTP act rather it is used as medical termination of pregnancy to ensure that these laws in the country aren’t framed as granting women a choice or a right to undergo safe procedures, but as procedures to protect doctors against prosecution for conducting abortions.
Types of Abortion (Termination of pregnancy)
Terminating a fetus from the uterus is classified into 2 different types i.e., Induced and Spontaneous Abortion.
Spontaneous Abortion is also known as Miscarriage, which is not the choice of the pregnant woman but happens for many different reasons such as Disease, Trauma, Non-development of the fetus, Non-compatible conditions in the uterus, etc. In this, a child may die in the womb before birth or during the process.
Induced Abortion are those which are done to prevent the physical or mental health of a mother, or, to prevent the pregnancy-induced through Rape, Incest, Failure of Contraceptives, or, to prevent the birth of an abnormal child, or, if the pregnant woman is a minor, or, to prevent the birth of a child for social and economic reasons of the family.
Procedures for Termination of Pregnancy
The different methods used for the Termination of pregnancy are:-
The different Surgical methods for Termination of pregnancy include:-
- Vacuum Aspiration Abortion:- It is one of the most common types of Surgical metho
ds. In this method, a Vacuum tube is inserted into the womb of a mother through Cervix and the contents of the womb are sucked out through this tube. It can be performed only in the early stages of the pregnancy i.e., within 14 weeks.
- Dilation and Evacuation method:- This method is used within 12-16 weeks of pregnancy. In this method, the woman’s cervical canal is enlarged with tools known as dilators. Then the surgical tools are used to scrape the contents of the womb and then sucking them out.
- Dilation and Extraction method:- This method is used sometimes after 18-20 weeks. This method involves the extraction of contents of the skull of the fetus into the vagina of the mother and then the fetus is sucked out killing the unborn child. It is also known as Partial-birth abortion. This method is usually adopted to save the life of the mother when the fetus has some fatal abnormalities that could endanger the life of the mother.
- Hysterotomy or gravid hysterectomy:- This method is used in later stages of pregnancies where the whole fetus is removed while still containing the pregnancy. This method requires making a small incision in the cesarean section before the procedure and usually has a much higher mortality rate than other surgical methods.
- Abortion Pill:- This method involves the use of medication to terminate the pregnancy. It is done in two stages. Firstly, the pregnant lady is given the drug mifepristone to block the hormones required for making fertilized eggs stick to the womb. Then within 48 hours another drug cause contractions and bleeding expelling the fetus from the body. This pill was developed in France in the 1980s. This method is used for preventing early stages of pregnancy i.e, 7 weeks approx.
- The morning after pill:- This method is also considered as effective as the previous one. In the method, the pill needs to be taken within 72 hours. The pill releases excess female hormones. The process, however, starts after the second phase where this pill acts on the lining of the womb preventing the fertilized egg to stick, thus it is released away from the womb.
Unsafe methods of Abortion
Abortion laws in some countries have a major loophole. For example:- In India woman doesn’t have a right or say if she wants to abort a child. She can go through the procedure only if a doctor gives consent or the clauses of the MTP act allows. If a woman is not ready to have a child personally she cannot abort her directly.
Such laws may divert the woman’s mind towards unsafe methods such as self-induced termination or seeking the help of an untrained person which may lead to severe complications.
According to the reports, unsafe abortions are the main reasons for maximum deaths all over the world. Some of the unsafe methods include the use of natural herbs such as Tansy, Black Cohosh, Pennyroyal, Silphium, etc.
Causing trauma to the abdomen by using force, forceful abdomen massage (common in southeast Asia).
After procedures of unsafe abortions, a woman may experience vast changes that affect their life. Some of the major complications include:-
- Failure to remove all the contents of the womb from the uterus
- Damage to internal organs
To prevent the life of the mother due to unsafe terminations, prevention and treatment need to be done with utmost care.
Health-care providers are obligated to provide life-saving medical care to any woman who suffers abortion-related complications, including treatment of complications from unsafe abortion, regardless of the legal grounds for abortion.
However, in some cases, treatment of abortion complications is administered only on the condition that the woman provides information about the person(s) who performed the illegal abortion.