Despite abortion being legal in India for almost five decades, every day 10 women die and thousands more face serious and permanent injuries due to unsafe abortions. This is unacceptable. Unsafe abortion is the third largest cause of maternal mortality and accounts for eight per cent of all maternal deaths in India. A recent study conducted jointly by International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Population Council, New Delhi, and Guttmacher Institute, New York, estimates that only 22 per cent of the 1.5 crore abortions that occur in India every year take place at a private or public-sector facility and are performed by trained personnel.
The shortage of trained providers and concomitant lack of facilities offering safe abortion services are two of the key contributory causes of unsafe abortions. Unfortunately, the one policy action that could address this acute public health crisis is yet to be taken.