Your no-nonsense guide to reproductive health in India.
Healthcare could be a tricky initiative to uniformly benefit a large population, especially India’s gargantuan community of 1.3 billion citizens. Access to safe and adequate medical care is far and few between depending on your distance from a proper health center. Rural areas are more likely to suffer due to a lack of appropriate assistance and aid. While not nationally mandated, some Indian states enforce a two-child policy. To comply, the residence must have access to proper forms of sexual and reproductive health. Here are important details regarding contraception and birth control in India.
India’s health insurance ranges from public to privately owned corporations. While the coverage is similar in most basic plans, many have cited the inadequate and often poor unequal quality of service of the free “public” healthcare compared to the expensive private care. Funded through taxation, India’s healthcare system is mandated on a state level, causing some discrepancies in policy upholdings through different statehoods in India. In 2012, India’s Public insurance was ranked 184th out of 191 countries; this was due to the limited coverage given through the basic plan. Other essential policies like outpatient services, family coverage, senior citizen coverage, pre-existing condition coverage, maternity coverage…etc. all must be purchased through private/employment means.
The public healthcare system (public sector) was created to provide every citizen, no matter their socio-economic standing, free healthcare. The policies, however, only safeguard the rural areas. The public sector makes up roughly 49-50% of the population due to the distance between hospitals in rural areas, making it harder for medical professionals to commute to a patient. The low quality of medical assistance and long-wait times also contribute to the apparent inconsistency between the private and public sector of healthcare.
The private sector has been growing increasingly popular among rural and urban areas within the past 25 years. Private healthcare offers between in and outpatient services, better quality assessments/testing, access to doctors, all for an ever-growing price.
Abortion has been legal in India since 1971 under specific circumstances. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 (MTP) is responsible for abortion laws, including the three-rank system in classifying abortions as safe, less-safe, and least-safe. A safe abortion is done before the 24-week cut-off, with proper guidance and monitoring from medical professionals. Less-safe abortions are done when medical professionals conduct an abortion using “unsafe” methods like Misoprostol. A least-safe abortion is considered by a medical professional who uses invasive and dangerous techniques as defined by the World Health Organization.
A list of reasons deemed appropriate for abortion can be found here. Two doctors must sign off to allow the abortion to take place. If abortion is needed after the 24-week mark, or due to a non-legal reason, the state’s High Court must be petitioned.
Insurance only covers abortions done out of medical necessity; voluntary abortions are not covered. With the price of the procedure, anesthetic, after-care, and other additional care methods, the cost of an abortion can range anywhere from ₹2,000 to ₹10,000 (rupees).