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Abortion Stigma remains and Self-abortion methods

Dangerous Self Abortion Methods

In India married women also undergo problems of confidentiality issues, lack of awareness, and stigma.

According to a report published by CEHAT, a research centre that publishes papers on health themes, in the experience of 60 per cent of married women, doctors providing abortions insisted on the husband’s permission prior to the procedure, and 28 per cent said this was true in government and private hospitals.

It should be clear that this is not a mandate under the MTP Act.

Self-abortion practices may cost a woman her life, and an unsuccessful attempt to induce such an abortion may cause lasting damage to the fetus resulting in the birth of a congenitally malformed baby.

There are a number of anecdotally recorded and disseminated methods of performing a self-induced abortion. Many of the following methods present a significant danger to the life or health of the woman:

  • receiving punches, kicks, or other blows to the abdominal area. Receiving blows to the abdomen, whether self-inflicted or at the hands of another, can damage organs.
  • Belly flopping  onto a hard surface, or throwing herself down a flight of stairs
  • attempted removal of the fetus with a steel wire coat-hanger or similar device inserted into the uterus through the cervix.
  • attempted piercing of the fetus with a knitting needle, crochet hook, hat pin, bobby pin or similar device inserted into the uterus through the cervix. Anything that was metal and long and thin would be used. A common complication from such a procedure was that the object would puncture through the uterus and injure the intestines, and the women would subsequently die from peritonitis and infection. Attempts to insert hazardous objects into the uterus are particularly dangerous, as they can cause punctures leading to septicemia.
  • insertion of a rubber tube or catheter into the uterus and attempting to suck the fetus out, or, alternatively, blowing air into the uterus to cause a miscarriage (if the tube or catheter pierced a blood vessel, this would sometimes lead to air embolism, which could be fatal)
  • potassium permanganate tablets were sometimes used. The tablets were inserted into the vagina where they caused a chemical burn so intense that a hole may be left in the tissue. the tablets left the surrounding tissue in such a state that doctors trying to stitch up the wound couldn’t do so because the tissue was like trying to suture butter.
  • ingesting abortifacients, vitamin C mega dosage penny royal or other substances believed to induce miscarriage
  • douching with substances believed to induce miscarriage, such as turpentine, clorox bleach, or lye, all of which could cause intense chemical burns (beginning in the 1960s, many women used Coca-Cola for this purpose, although its utility is at best dubious). Ingesting or douching with harmful substances can have poisonous results.
  • vaginal pessaries
  • yoga
  • acupuncture at points linked to miscarriage
  • hypothermia(many women would lie for periods of time in snowbanks, which could be fatal to them) or hyperthermia(women would lie in tubs filled with hot or even scalding water for periods of time, often while simultaneously drinking gin)
  • physical exertion designed to bring about a miscarriage
  • abdominal massage (The less dangerous methods – physical exertion, abdominal massage, and ingestion of relatively harmless substances thought to induce miscarriage – are less effective, and may result in the fetus developing birth defects)

Women in underdeveloped areas of India successfully induce abortions through the following methods:

  • Lifting of heavy weights;
  • Consumption of mutton marrow, dried henna powder (this will cause severe liver injury) or carrot seed soup.

The cheap prescription synthetic prostaglandin drug Misoprostol is often used as an abortifacient in self-induced abortion.

Although proponents of this method deem it to be safer than those using insertion of objects or chemicals into the uterus, they also note that failure to effect an abortion by this method can lead to the child being born with serious birth defects.

Furthermore, the drug causes a drastic drop in blood pressure, and women may experience heavy bleeding as a result of misusing the drug and self-administration outside medical supervision.

Current medical procedures are significantly physically safer than traditional at-home methods, and are in fact safer than childbirth as evidenced by a seven-year study conducted in the United States.

While abortion through pills is considered safe, it often leads to hemorrhage, incomplete abortion, and is discouraged for anemic women since it causes heavy bleeding.

Surgery is a vacuum evacuation process that minimizes the chances of incomplete abortion but is costlier, though quicker.