A query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that at least four women died due to complications arising from abortion in 2016-17 after undergoing medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) at Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-run hospitals. Three of them succumbed to sepsis, which experts claim can be prevented by infection-control mechanisms.
The RTI query filed by activist Chetan Kothari revealed that there were 33,526 abortions in 2016-17, of which at least 491 were girls below 19 and 1,336 single women. Civic officials, however, claimed the count of under-19 abortions may be much higher. “The data takes time to update, which is why it shows a lower count,” said Dr Padmaja Keskar, executive health officer at BMC.
Since 2013, abortions have increased from 30,117 to 34,790 in 2015. Girls aged less than 19 form a substantial part of these with 1,073 recorded to undergo pregnancy termination in 2013, 1,595 in 2014 and 1,013 in 2015. Of those who underwent abortion in 2016-17, four died within a week of the procedure. The women were admitted to KEM hospital, Bhabha Bandra hospital, Vardhan hospital and the fourth died at home post-abortion. A history of all the deceased pregnant women showed that none of them received pre-natal care.
“The risk to pregnant woman is least when she undergoes abortion in the first trimester. The risk increases by second trimester,” said Keskar, adding that they often come across cases where young girls get pregnant without sufficient knowledge of contraceptives. According to RTI data, 1,375 women chose to undergo abortion in the second trimester in Mumbai. The information showed that in 2016-17, at least 29,700 women, who underwent abortion, claimed the contraceptive devices failed following which they got pregnant. About 1,879 women were at risk due to pregnancy and in 775 cases there was birth anomaly found in the foetus.