Mumbai seems to have emerged as a major hub for getting foetuses aborted both legally and illegally. In the year 2013-14 alone, the city witnessed about 31,800 abortions, the legislative assembly was informed on Friday. Of these, nearly 1,800 involved pregnant minors.
Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse placed this data on the floor of the house when a question about online sale of abortion kits, contraceptives and aphrodisiacs was raised by BJP legislator Dr Milind Mane. The MLA demanded a ban on online sale of the drugs, which he claimed was taking place without legal medical advice.
Of the 31,800 abortions, 185 involved girls below the age of 15 years and 1,600 girls who underwent the procedure were in the 15-18 age group. The rest were all adults. Khadse did not, however, specify how many of these abortions were illegal or disclose the number for the rest of the state.
“Taking abortion pills or contraceptives without seeking medical advice creates health complications,” said Mane, who himself is a renowned medical practitioner from Nagpur. “Even aphrodisiacs that the people consume without consulting doctors badly affect health,” he told the lower house, adding that abortions could be done only under medical supervision.
In the pipeline
In response, Khadse said that the FDA had taken action against some online companies a couple of months ago for selling abortion kits and drugs illegally. “The state government has also urged the Union government to amend relevant laws to stop illegal sales.
The law pertaining to this can be amended by the Centre alone and the state has no such powers,” he said. The minister said that the Centre has responded positively to the state’s request, but did not elaborate on a timeline for the laws being amended or guidelines being issued.
Abortions in 2013-14
Under 15 years: 185
15-18 years: 1,600
Above 18 years: 30,000
Help at hand
The state government has also started a helpline number 1800 222 365, which can be used by citizens to inform the government about illegal online and over-the-counter sales of prescription drugs and abortion kits.