You can get an illegal abortion in City done for Rs 10,000

You can get an illegal abortion in City done for Rs 10,000

It is easy to miss Dr Satya Devi Clinic. There is no board outside the house and the entrance is inconspicuous. But a signboard at the beginning of the narrow lane and directions from locals help you locate the place in Paharganj.

Satya Devi, an Ayurvedic doctor in whose name the clinic runs, died in 1988. The clinic is now run by her family members and has branches in the city. Satya Devi’s husband Dr K K Ghai, who died last June, is alive on the prescription pad.

Two Deccan Herald reporters visited the place during an investigation into clinics performing illegal abortions – on women well into their pregnancies or on those who do not want to bear a girl child.

We went as an unmarried couple wanting to abort a foetus, which is past three months. Legally, a healthy foetus cannot be aborted at this stage. In fact, the two doctors at the clinic are not qualified even to perform ‘normal’ early-stage abortions.

“Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, only a registered medical practitioner (RMP), can conduct abortions,” said Dr Anil Bansal, Chairperson, Anti-Quackery Cell, Delhi Medical Council.

Sharda Manaktala, who is Satya Devi’s daughter, holds an outdated BIMS (Bachelor of Indian Medicine and Surgery) ‘degree’, which allows her to practice Ayurveda. Her sister-in-law Minni Ghai assists her.

When we say we want a word in private, the two doctors promptly send away the other patients in the room.

“Are you unmarried? First let me check her and then we can talk about money,” says Manaktala.

We avoid the check-up which would have revealed that the woman journalist is not pregnant. We ask of the risks involved in aborting the foetus.

“From our calculation, she has already completed three-and-a-half-months’ pregnancy,” says Ghai. She warns that there would be some bleeding at this stage.

Under the MTP Act, an abortion can be carried out till the first 12 weeks (three months) by a gynaecologist. Beyond this, a foetus can be aborted till 20 weeks only if two gynaecologists agree that the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s mental or physical health or if the baby is likely to suffer from deformities.But these doctors don't get into these issues.

The process will be carried out through “oral medicines and injections” which will cost Rs 10,000, says Manaktala. “Or you can admit her at my nursing home in Laxmi Nagar. It will cost you Rs 15,000... It has to be paid in advance.” The two are aware that they are discussing something illegal. “No discussion on this will be entertained on phone,” says Ghai.

They also assure us no paperwork will be involved. “Yeh gopniye kaam hota hain. Nahi toh aap bhi phasoge aur hum bhi. (This is all secret work. Or both the parties would get caught in legalities),” says Ghai.

She adds Manaktala will be available at the nursing home the following Saturday. “If you have visited other clinics, you must have visited my sister Dr Kapoor in East Patel Nagar. She is also into the same business,” says Manaktala.

The sister’s name does figure on the Satya Devi Clinic letterhead, but when we go to her clinic, she turns us away.

Medical bodies consider BIMS doctors like Manaktala to be no better than quacks.

“It is not possible to conduct an abortion without allopathic medicines. There is no concept of anaesthesia without allopathy. So only a registered medical practitioner can conduct abortions,” said Dr K K Aggarwal, Medical Council of India.

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