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Over Five Million Illegal Abortions In India Every Year

India records a whopping 5.7 million illegal abortions every year and over 80 percent of pregnant women do not get hygienic antenatal care, say experts//.

"Every year 6.7 million abortions take place in India but the sad part is that 5.7 millions are illegal. The place and technique used in most of the illegal cases are unsafe and unhygienic," said Sudha Tewari, president of Parivar Seva Sanstha, an NGO working closely with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

"The result is obvious - India has a steep maternal mortality rate of 498 per 100,000 women, which is very high as compared to other countries," Tewari told IANS. She said her organisation carried out 15 percent of the legal abortions in the country.

The NGO has 43 clinics in 12 states and running advocacy programmes in 22 states. Adopting birth control measures could help save the lives of some 27,000 women every year, she said.

According to UNICEF, only 15 percent of mothers receive complete antenatal care. In rural areas, 75 percent of births still take place at home, mostly without any skilled help to ensure a safe delivery.

Puneet Bedi, a leading foetal medicine expert, quoting records of the Delhi government, said only 700 out of the registered 1,800 ultrasound clinics in New Delhi submitted monthly reports mandated under the PNDT (Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act.

Bedi urged strong action to curb illegal abortions especially of female foetuses in order to maintain the male-female sex ratio.

The sex ratio in India has been declining for several decades. According to the 2001 census, the adult sex ratio is 933 women per 1,000 males. The child sex ratio is 927 girls per 1,000 male children.

"Strict regulation and stringent punishment are two major points that both the government and those working closely with it should keep in mind," Bedi said.

Quoting a survey by Parivar Seva Sanstha, Tewari said th
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