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Unsafe abortion in India: causes, consequences and prevention

National Safe Motherhood Day 2022: Why India needs to focus on unsafe abortion

Health is very important for longevity. To promote overall well-being, Onlymyhealth focuses on a specific topic each month. ‘Healthy Living’ is our focus in April where we will present to you stories that promote healthy living. Safe motherhood is the right of every woman to keep her mother and child healthy. But unsafe abortion increases the risk to both lives. In this article, we will talk about unsafe abortion.

Unsafe abortion in India is the third leading cause of maternal mortality and illness in the country. An abortion should be performed within the appropriate pregnancy period and by a qualified person. However, according to the World Health Organization, 45% of all abortions are unsafe. According to Dr. Suhasini Inamdar, Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Indiranagar, Bangalore, Unsafe abortion means termination of pregnancy without proper knowledge and skills or through medical intervention by individuals in inappropriate circumstances. It leads to different physical, mental, financial, social and emotional understanding for women. Although some survive and suffer from chronic health problems and infertility, some women lose their lives due to the complications of unsafe abortion.

Also read: New abortion bill proposed by the cabinet to increase the legal abortion limit to 24 weeks

What causes unsafe abortion?

There is a lack of access to safe and affordable abortion care, which is why a large number of populations resort to unsafe abortion despite knowing the consequences. For couples who are unmarried or when the pregnancy is unintended, it is more difficult to choose a safe abortion performed by a skilled provider in a healthy condition. Some of the factors that lead to unsafe abortion;

Unsafe abortion

  • Lack of sex education– Unwanted pregnancies are one of the major situations when people choose to have an abortion. There is a widespread lack of sexual education and knowledge about contraception, especially among young people, which leads to unintended pregnancies and the threat of miscarriage.
  • Most adolescents fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of pregnancy And only find out when it’s too late. When they decide to have an abortion, there is a lack of knowledge about stopping pregnancy treatment which can be found in reputed clinics and hospitals.
  • Lack of access– It is seen that women, especially in rural areas, lack access to safe, timely and affordable and dignified abortion care. The reason may be geographical, financial or socio-economic.
  • Stigma– Even if people are aware of health benefits, they want to hide their pregnancy (especially unmarried women) from their family and society, forcing them to consult an incompetent doctor at an unsafe facility. They are often concerned about their privacy, confidentiality and feedback.

What are the consequences of unsafe abortion?

Here are some unsafe abortion results that every woman should know.


Some of the complications caused by unsafe abortion include damaged reproductive tract, cervical laser, pelvic infection, sepsis, hemorrhage (heavy bleeding), uterine perforation, bowel and bladder injury, and septicemia. Treatment of this condition often requires major emergency surgery.

Unsafe abortion


When a woman goes through an abortion, she is burdened with emotional loss and trauma. Due to a highly justified society, there is a lack of emotional support for women injured by unsafe abortions. At this time women need the support of their loved ones and healthcare providers.


After a woman goes through the physical and emotional pain of an unsafe abortion, she may be forced to bear the financial burden of subsequent health complications. They also live in constant fear of judgment which can cause a lot of anxiety and depression.

Also read: Bleeding in early pregnancy can be a sign of miscarriage

How to prevent unsafe abortion?

Unwanted pregnancies lead to unsafe abortions. Therefore, prevention of such pregnancies must be an essential objective. An overall effort is required to involve all players. It should involve not only healthcare providers, but also government agencies, communities, families and individual members of society.

Unsafe abortion

Awareness raising

Reproductive health information and services should be more accessible. Lack of awareness about reproductive health information makes it difficult for sexually active people to know their rights. This will help young couples understand the importance of contraceptives in preventing unwanted pregnancies and where they can be found when needed. They should also know the importance of going to a qualified health professional if needed.

Removing the stigma associated with abortion

The stigma associated with abortion in society needs to be prevented at the community level. Awareness programs will help challenge the negative gender norms that prevent women from seeking safe abortions. This will help overcome family, community and political barriers to accessing safe abortion services.

Clinical and sensitivity training for healthcare professionals

Each hospital should provide the necessary comprehensive abortion care training to its staff so that they can help women find their services. They should create a safe place so that women are not ashamed to approach them for fear of justice. Healthcare professionals should be aware of women’s rights, both humanitarian and legal, in the case of abortion. It is very important to be compassionate and fair.

Image Credit – Fripic

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