Illegal Abortions in India

Topics: Abortion, Pregnancy, Abortion law Pages: 20 (6921 words) Published: September 16, 2013
"It seems to me clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime." -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Abortion or miscarriage means the spontaneous or induced termination of pregnancy before the foetus is independently viable, which is usually taken as occurring after the 28th week of conception. Children born a few days before the 28th week are known to have survived with modern care. It has also been defined as the expulsion or removal of all (complete) or any part (incomplete) of the placenta or membranes with or without any abortus. Medically, abortion means the expulsion of the ovum within the first 3 months of the pregnancy; miscarriage, the expulsion of the foetus from 4th- 7th month; and premature delivery, the delivery of a baby after 7th month of pregnancy and before full term. Legally, miscarriage, abortion and pre mature labour are now accepted as synonymous terms, indicating any termination of pregnancy at any stage or before confinement. Life begins at the moment of conception; after conception, it takes about 7- 10 days before implantation of the developing ovum takes place; the embryo goes on developing upto the end of the 9th week, and from then onwards is the foetal stage. HISTORY OF ABORTION

Abortion has been part of family planning since ancient times, with natural remedies being found amongst a wide variety of tribal people and in all our written sources. Our earliest texts contain no mention of abortion or abortion law. When it does appear, it is entailed in concerns about male property rights, preservation of social order, and the duty to produce fit citizens for the state or community. The harshest penalties were generally reserved for a woman who procured an abortion against her husband's wishes, and for slaves who produced abortion in a woman of high status. Religious texts often contained severe condemnations of abortion, recommending penance but seldom enforcing secular punishment. The attitude in India towards abortion has changed over the centuries. The basic tenets of Hinduism are against abortion, though it is obvious from the “Artharav Veda” that abortion was well known in India in the Vedic age. At a later date, in medieval India, abortion was a punishable offence, according to Kautilya, the famous physician and theologian. Though the religious Code and society in general condemned abortion, it was obviously common practice in pre-colonial India. As Professor Das Gupta observes, the most important reason for this was the custom of child marriage and prohibition of remarriage amongst widows of higher castes, who were forced to take recourse to illegal abortion as the only way to get rid of their unwanted pregnancies, often aided and abetted by sympathetic relatives to protect family honour. Village Dhais used to procure abortion in a routine manner, mainly using the various plants, herbal agents and other substances. This went on until the first legal provision against abortion was made under British rule in 1860, which was an attempt to check and reduce the number of illegal abortions. CLASSIFICATION OF ABORTION

Abortion may be classified as spontaneous and induced, the latter being subdivided into therapeutic and criminal. NATURAL (SPONTANEOUS) ABORTION
The incidence of (Spontaneous) abortion is 10% to 15% of all pregnancies. Abortions are most frequent within the first three months of pregnancy, owing to the slight attachment of the ovum to the uterine wall. Within the first few weeks, the ovum being very minute is cast off without being recognised or abortion being suspected. Women might go one or two weeks over their time, and then often have what is supposed to be merely a more than usually profuse period. These are probably instance of such early spontaneous abortions. Causes of spontaneous abortion

The causes of spontaneous abortion are classified as those which are directly referable to the mother, and which affect the foetus. Causes directly referable to the mother
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