Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Last fall—before the Center for Medical Progress released its video attack on Planned Parenthood, before Cecile Richards testified before Congress, before Congress voted to defund the health care organization—I was in India, watching a woman have an abortion.
The woman — I’ll call her Meena — was having a safe, legal procedure in a hospital, performed by a trained provider. Even so, this was not what abortion looks like in the United States, where clinics across the country strive to provide environments that are comforting and welcoming while also bright, clean and safe. The room in a public hospital was bare-bones; after the abortion was complete, Meena stood up and walked herself to the recovery room, which contained a thin mattress on a metal bed frame. There was none of what you’d see at American clinics: hand-holding, inspirational feminist quotes painted on the walls, cozy reclining chairs.
Still, Meena was comparatively lucky. Despite the fact that abortion is legal in India, safe and regulated procedures are less common than you might think. According to some studies, a woman dies every two hours here from an unsafe abortion.
“So many women were coming with perforation of the uterus or having incomplete abortion with severe hemorrhage,” Dr. Madhubula Chouhan, a professor and veteran OB/GYN who trains Indian doctors in abortion care, told me. “So many patients died because of unsafe abortion.”
Of all the women injured by clandestine abortions she saw in decades of OB/GYN care, I ask Dr. Chouhan, are there any particular stories that stand out? She pauses.
“So many, so many,” she says. “I’ve seen so many I can’t even remember.”
Read more here.