Saturday, March 12, 2011

Barking at the wrong tree!

GOM proposes to regulate use of Abortion Pill to stop sex selective abortions

Twenty one lac illegal sex determination tests and seven lac girls being eliminated through illegal sex determination everyyear and the government feels that there is no need to regulate the clinics. The fact that in spite of our society being a son preferring society, that we did not eliminate girls on such a large scale before the pre-natal diagnostic techniques appeared in the market does not seem to register with them. Though it is apparent to all that there is a definite link between the availability and accessibility of sonography machines and the fall in the sex ratios, the concerned officials continue to deny it and blame it on mindsets and say it is a social problem.

The apathy of the Maharashtra Government to this issue is established by the fact that the State Supervisory Board was not constituted for two and a half years. And when it is formed last week under pressure from NGOs the very first meeting shows the lack of understanding and misdirected focus which deflects from the basic issue of misuse of technology.

As a monitoring and policy directing body it is expected to have members who have the technical knowledge, commitment to upholding the rights of the women and understand the nuances of abortion and sex selective abortions. If we are to go by the news reports it is obvious that the members have not been able to take an informed stand on the issue.
The focus of the recommendations of the State Supervisory Board is on controlling the sale and use of the abortion pill. This is a totally misdirected measure.

Abortion pills are not used by the women going for pre-birth sex selection. The pills are effective only up to 49 days of pregnancy. A woman cannot know the sex of the baby by then. The sex of the baby can be indicated from 12th week onwards and confirmed only after 18th week. So how does monitoring the sale of abortion pill help the cause?

This approach is dangerous as it compromises the right of a woman to safe abortion. Abortion in India is legal if it is in the interest of the well being of the mother and child, in case of rape and contraceptive failure. In a social context where women do not have control over their reproductive and sexual behaviour, abortion helps them get rid of unwanted pregnancies.

In India it is estimated that nearly 11 million abortions take place every year and around 6 million of them are unsafe abortions. Close to 20,000 women die every year due to abortion related complications. Awareness about abortions being legal is poor in India and measures like the proposed one would force many women to go for unsafe abortions by quacks endangering their lives. It would talibanise the society with the pharmacy workers, government officials and other lumpen elements targeting women buying abortion pills. It goes against the principle of confidentiality of MTP act.

Instead, the government should focus on cracking the business of illegal sex determination clinics and lodge legal cases against all clinics flouting the PCPNDT act. It is time that all those who value the rights of the women come forward and lodge their protest against this regressive, ill informed and misdirected move of Government of Maharashtra.

No comments:

Post a Comment