Stigma key deterrent to abortions, say doctors

Poor transport poses challenge for women to get to hospital for delivery

Stigma key deterrent to abortions, say doctors
Even as several facilities have been provided by the government for safe abortion, not many have been using it because of the stigma associated with it. The issue is more complex with those suffering from HIV Aids, say social workers.

At a meeting organised by the Bengaluru branch of the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), South Asia Region Office of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Citizen News Service here on Monday, Dr Padmini Prasad, vice president, FPAI branch, said that there was a lot of stigma associated with abortion, especially in cases where women were unmarried.

Speaking about a particular case, Dr Prasad said that a girl had not known that she had conceived and walked in asking for help only when she was five months pregnant.

It was after rounds of counselling that she informed the family and later underwent abortion.

During the event, it was stressed that sexual and reproductive health and rights cut across the three dimensions of the 2030 sustainable development goals - economic, social and environmental - and that it was crucial in reducing poverty and hunger; achieving better health, access for quality education by women, ensuring gender equality and empowering women.

Dr K S Umamani said that even as the government had put several initiatives in place to improve reproductive health, the ground reality was different.

She said that even as institutional delivery was being promoted by the government, the challenges for the rural masses were plenty.
“Most of the time, reaching the primary health centre is itself a challenge because of the poor transport system. Even if they reach the hospital on time, specialists are not available. Sometimes, there is no water and electricity supply,” she said.

Contradicting the stereotype that the illiterate do not adopt contraceptive methods, Dr Umamani said that a recent survey of 100 house maids showed that they were aware of the methods and were using them.

Dr M Rajini, deputy director, Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques, department of health and family welfare, said in parts of Vijayapura and Bagalkot districts, open defecation was prevalent, making women prone to sexual assault, rape and infection.

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