The Vadodara Municipal Corporation seems helpless in checking the mushrooming of abortion clinics across the city. In absence of a provision that can regulate medical establishments,all hospitals,including abortion clinics and dispensaries,are bracketed as shops by the corporation. Effectively that mean the VMC cannot scrutinise or check records of abortion clinics. In fact,no authority in the city,including the District Public Health Department,has any data on abortions conducted in the city.
Activists working against female foeticide say that Vadodara,along with Surat,is increasingly becoming the hub of illegal abortions due to lack of regulations. The clinics conducting sex-selective abortions are not only thriving but also attracting couples from outside the city.
The child sex ratio of Vadodara stands at 886 to every 1000 males born (as per the 2011 census),out of which the urban child sex ratio is at an appalling 852,way below the national average. It was this declining child sex ratio that led Chief Minister Narendra Modi to kickstart the Beti Bachao campaign. However,city and district administrations throw up their hands when asked for official record on MTPs.
According to VMCs health department,it does not have the power to call for data from hospitals. Even if we want to call for data from clinics conducting abortions,we are unable to do so as there is no provision in the corporation that empowers us, said VMC Health Officer Dr Devesh Patel. The department says it is on its way to implement the Bombay Nursing Home Act,which will give it the power to regulate records of hospitals and abortion clinics. The proposal,which has been cleared by VMCs standing committee almost a year ago,has not generated as much interest as to merit a discussion in the corporations general body meetings.
Mayor Bharat Shah was dismissive about bringing in new regulations. We have not yet thought about the implementation of the regulation, he told The Indian Express.
VMC officials claim that the general body is buckling under pressure from a lobby of doctors. Vadodara IMA president Dr Paresh Majumdar,however,denied that doctors were lobbying to subvert the process and said the reluctance of the hospitals is only for the VMC scrutiny.
On the other hand,abortion centers have been openly advertising themselves on social networking sites,some claiming to offer 24-hour services. A doctor at one such abortion clinic said,We are only conducting MTPs and not sex-determination tests. What reasons do the couple have for aborting a foetus are seldom asked.