Abortions in Mumbai went up by nearly 10% in 2013-14, making it the highest in the past seven years, according to recent municipal health data.
The data collected from private and public hospitals by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) health department showed that 30,117 abortions were recorded in the year.
Even as BMC officials attributed the increase in abortions to better reporting, data showed that the number of abortions performed in the second trimester of pregnancy (when the sex of the foetus can be detected) had increased by 11% compared with the abortions in the first trimester (up to 12 weeks), which rose by 9%.
Campaigners against female foeticide claim that higher abortion rates are often associated with sex selection. The gender of the foetus can be found out by sonography in the second trimester.
According to Varsha Deshpande, who heads Lek Ladki Abhyaan, a non-profit working for the cause of girl child, the dwindling sex ratio indicates that at least 5 to 7% abortions are sex selective.
“Many abortions that are above 12 weeks are reported as first trimester abortions because there is no mechanism to check the age of the foetus,” she said.Medical experts claimed that probing patients could also put them at risk.
“It is difficult to find out if the woman wants an abortion because she is carrying a female child. If the doctor makes many enquiries, they may go to an unqualified person who will offer the abortions without any questions, which ultimately puts the woman at risk,” said Dr DK Mangal, in charge of Maharashtra office of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), adding that 8% maternal deaths are caused by abortions.
According to experts, abortions in the second trimester are risky and dangerous for women.
“If the woman’s first child is a girl, we send them to a counsellor in order to be sure that she is not aborting under family pressure of having a boy,” said Dr Ashok Anand, professor, gynaecology department, Grant Medical College attached to JJ hospital.