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So near, yet so far: access to safe abortion services remains elusive for poor women in India
  1. Sudip Bhattacharya,
  2. Mohammad Abu Bashar,
  3. Amarjeet Singh
  1. School of Public Health, Department of Community Medicine, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sudip Bhattacharya, drsudip81{at}


In this case study, we describe our experiences with a woman employed as a housemaid who sought unsafe abortion services from a private doctor. This was her sixth pregnancy, after previously giving birth to one son and two daughters and undergoing two induced abortions. Her husband remained opposed to the use of contraception. Initially, she had sought medical termination of pregnancy through a government hospital but was denied because of procedural delays, specifically the non-availability of an ultrasonography report consequent to a lack of proof of identity (ie, the AADHAAR card, a unique identification card for recording biometric and demographic data in India). She finally sought the services of an unqualified private physician and received oral abortifacient agents. Consequently, she was required to seek treatment for bleeding per vaginum from the dispensary staff at a government hospital. We note that many such incidents occur in our daily practice but remain unnoticed and undocumented. Although this patient was eligible for sterilisation (ie, tubectomy), her husband was uncooperative. This case illustrates the lack of decision-making power experienced by Indian women who have a low societal status.

  • migration and health
  • primary care
  • drugs: endocrine system
  • global health
  • healthcare improvement and patient safety
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  • Handling editor Sudip Bhattacharya

  • Contributors SB, MAB and AS: concept and design. SB and AS: writing of the manuscript. MAB: data collection. All three authors checked the final proof.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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