'Sex-selective' abortion in TN claims woman’s life

A 28-year-old mother of three girl children died during a suspected sex-selective abortion performed by a nurse in Usilampatti taluk of Madurai district, Tamil Nadu. (Image for representation)

A 28-year-old mother of three girl children died during a suspected sex-selective abortion performed by a nurse in Usilampatti taluk of Madurai district, Tamil Nadu.

The nurse, Lakshmi, performed the abortion on Tuesday despite being fully aware that terminating a foetus beyond 20 weeks is illegal. She has been arrested.

Usilampatti was notorious for practising female infanticide in the 1980s and the 1990s and it took massive efforts on the part of the government and NGOs to bring about a change in people’s mindset.

The barbaric practice of killing a girl child after it is born or terminating a female foetus even inspired ace Tamil director Bharathirajaa to devote his 1994 film Karuthamma to highlight the issue. Officials said no case of female infanticide has been reported from the region since 2000.

Ramuthayee, who lives in Uthapanaickanoor village, decided to take the risk of going for an abortion of the foetus, which was 25 to 28 weeks old, after she underwent an illegal sex determination test, which showed that the fourth child she was carrying was also a girl.

When the private hospital, which is suspected to be behind the illegal sex determination test, reportedly refused to terminate the foetus citing the advanced state of pregnancy, Ramuthayee sought the help of the nurse who worked in the same hospital.

“Ramuthayee died during the abortion procedure. After the incident was brought to our notice, we immediately went to the spot and alerted the district health officials, who are also conducting their own inquiry into the incident,” a police officer told DH.

Though Ramuthayee’s husband Ramar claimed that he was not aware of his wife’s decision, the police say a clear picture will emerge only after investigations are over. Teams from the police and the health department are camping in the village and interacting with villagers to get to the bottom of the issue.

Deputy Director (Health Services) K V Arjun Kumar told DH that the woman had not registered with the Primary Health Centre in her village and had only visited private clinics for check-ups.

“On learning about the incident, our team went to the village and spoke to her family who said she had visited a private hospital in Usilampatti on Monday evening,” Kumar said.

Joint Director (Health Services) V R Vijayalakshmi, who is conducting an inquiry, told DH that the scanning centre is yet to be identified.

“I visited a scan centre that is suspected to have conducted the test and seized documents from there. Unless it is established that the test was illegally done there, we can’t come to any conclusion,” Vijayalakshmi said.

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'Sex-selective' abortion in TN claims woman’s life

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