No action yet against hospital that violated abortion laws

State family welfare dept contests the clean chit given by PMC health chief-led panel to Meera hospital, where a doctor allegedly aborted a foetus over 21 weeks old

The state family welfare department and Pune Municipal Corporation’s Health Department are at loggerheads over two contradictory and controversial reports on the alleged violation of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act by Meera hospital on Shankar Sheth Road.

Meera hospital
Not in the clear? Meera hospital on Shankar Sheth Road. Pic/Dattatraya Adhalge

While the PMC health chief, Dr S T Pardeshi, has given the hospital a clean chit, the state department holds the hospital responsible for violating the law.

Moreover, no police case has been registered against Meera Hospital, or the two other hospitals — Sutika Seva Mandir in Narayan Peth and Samarth hospital in Kasba Peth — that were found violating the MTP norms in March 2013.

Ganesh Borhade, an RTI activist who had highlighted blatant violations of the Act by the three hospitals, had demanded that an FIR be registered against the PMC health chief and vice-chief, Dr Anjali Sabane, for shielding the Meera hospital doctors involved in breach of law.

mid-day had reported on the matter (‘Activist blames PMC for not acting against three illegal abortion centres’) on February 26 this year after which the PMC’s MTP committee met on March 5 and April 7.

Dr Pardeshi had, in the committee meetings, assured that all the documents of the three hospitals would be scrutinised and suitable action would be taken.

The meeting was attended by Dr Pardeshi, Dr Sabane, Dr Sanjaykumar Tambe from Sassoon hospital of B J Medical College, Dr Shirish Patwardhan of Pune Obstetric and Gynaecological Society and Dr Vaijayanti Patwardhan of Indian Medical Association, Pune chapter.

The committee gave a clean chit to Meera hospital stating that the foetus aborted there, according to sonography reports, was 20 weeks old and not 21 weeks 6 days as alleged in the complaint.

However, when Borhade complained about the same to the helpline of the state family welfare department, Dr Vaishali Jadhav submitted a report on October 18 stating that the foetus was actually 21 weeks 6 days old when the pregnancy was terminated.

These contradictory documents were recently obtained by Borhade as a reply to his RTI query.

Based on this, Borhade has again requested PMC Commissioner Kunal Kumar to take action against the health chief and other officers.

Borhade said, “Dr Pardeshi is trying to save Dr A V Umranikar of Meera hospital. Strict action should be taken against these officers for violating the MTP Act of 1971.”

Dr Pardeshi said, “It was a technical error. The number of weeks completed was written as 21 weeks and 6 days by mistake.

This confusion was cleared when we enquired about the case during our MTP committee meeting on March 5, 2014.”

Asked about the contradictory findings of the state family welfare department officer, Dr Pardeshi said, “It is up to you to decide who is senior – the MTP committee headed by me or Dr Vaishali Jadhav who has given the other report.”


The other side

Dr A V Umranikar, gynaecologist at Meera hospital, who had terminated the pregnancy in March 2013, said, “I have never encouraged nor conducted female foeticide. The case of MTP being referred to was an abnormal baby and we have submitted all the required documents to the authorities. About the number of weeks completed in pregnancy we have relied on the sonography reports instead of the dates given by the patient at the time of consultancy.”

Inaction claims
The PMC’s Health Department had in February this year served show-cause notices to the three hospitals with abortion centres, after an inspection held last year found them guilty of flouting the norms and doctoring abortion statistics. Right to Information (RTI) activist Ganesh Borhade had then alleged that the civic body was deliberately not initiating strong action against the three hospitals with abortion centres as per the MTP Act and was dragging its feet in the matter.

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