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Monday, July 15, 2013

City abortions up by alarming 61% in 3 yrs

Mumbai: The city has seen an alarming 61% rise in the number of abortion cases over the past three years, according to the BMC statistics received by the public health department. 

    The city recorded 27,256 abortions in 2012-13 against 16,977 abortions registered in 2010-11 (see box), reveals the BMC data on abortions conducted in public and private hospitals in its jurisdiction. 
    But government officials find nothing suspicious in this sudden rise in the numbers. They say it's an indication of a better working system. 
    "This rise has nothing to do with sex-determination cases," public health minister Suresh Shetty told TOI. Higher ab
ortion rates are often thought to indicate sex selection by couples; the logic is that they illegally find out the gender of the unborn foetus and, if it's a girl, opt for an abortion within the stipulated 20 weeks. Given the city's pathetic child sex ratio — only 874 girls are born for every 1,000 boys in the city as per Census 2011—such suspicion is not surprising. 'Increase in abortion rate shows better monitoring' 
Mumbai: According to public health minister Suresh Shetty, higher abortion rates are just an indicator of better monitoring. "After realising that there has been a significant drop in child sex ratio of Maharashtra, including in urban areas such as Mumbai, the state initiated stringent measures to control the issue,'' said the health minister. As a result, the state has better reporting of all pregnancies. "Hence, the rise in abortion cases in Mumbai is nothing but an outcome of better monitoring, surveillance and effective implementation of the rules," added Shetty. 
    The issue of curbing illegal abortion in the state was raised by Dr Sujit Michekar, Devendra Fadnavis, Pankaja Munde-Palve and other members of the legislative assembly during the question hour on Monday. 
    In his written reply, Shetty 
admitted to a rise in abortion cases in Mumbai. "Beginning from June 1, 2013, the BMC has formed 34 squads to visit sonography centres and check whether they are following MTP rules or violating them. The squad so far has served showcause notices to eight sonography centres for violating the rules," the minister mentioned in his written reply. 
    Dr Rekha Daver, who heads the gynaecology department of the state government-run JJ Hospital in Byculla, said that the state's mother-tracking system tracks every pregnant women. "The idea is to bring down maternal mortality (death during pregnancy) and to alleviate the health problems of pregnant women (such as anaemia, hypertension, etc)," she said. 
    But in the process, data is also collected on women who undergo spontaneous abortion or opt for voluntary termination of pregnancy. 
    "Any increase in abortion rates is just a reflection of the better tracking system using computers," she added. 
    Dr Nozer Sheriar of Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India said that abortions have traditionally been underreported in India. "Any increase has to be because of better reporting of abortions," he added.


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