A negative right
Reviewed by Amarinder Gill

Abortion in India: Myth and Reality S.G.Kabra 
Rawat Publications. Pages 186. Rs 595 

Abortion and medical termination of pregnancy are words which are used interchangeably. With demographers and sociologists drawing attention to the skewed sex ratio, abortion is receiving attention. Abortion in India clarifies the basic terms related to the subject and give details of the method of spontaneous and induced abortion. The writer explains the provisions of the MTP Act. Calling it a negative right, the writer delves into its ethics and cites legal provisions regarding criminal abortion.

Abortion in India: Myth and Reality S.G.Kabra Rawat publications. Pages 186. Rs 595 

Writing about the dos and don'ts, Kabra provides graphic details of the horrors done to the human body by illegal abortions. Back-street quacks and dais perform the illegal act which results in unnatural deaths going unreported. The liberalisation of MTP has made women guineapigs, where they become victims of various chemical and physical experiments. The writer, himself a doctor strongly voices his opinion regarding unsafe abortions. There are details about various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code which mandate the right to safe abortions. The chapter, Medicine Deranged brings to light the fact that preventive depopulation is nothing short of human rights violation. Ethical questions have been raised regarding MTPs performed by medical professionals. The book highlights the marketing and distribution of abortion pills which compel the uterus to expel its contents which is contradictory to the provisions of the MTP Act. Sex- selective termination of pregnancy has often been quoted as the main reason behind the skewed sex ratio. Against such a background the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Act was passed. An entire chapter has been devoted to the details of the Act. Highlighting gender disparity, the author is insistent that we need to look beyond female foeticide as a major cause for foetal loss.Taking the demographics of Rajasthan as a case study, the book indicates that factors like foeto-toxins, endocrine disrupters, seasonal variation, post-birth factors also play an important part in determining the sex ratio.

While dealing with modern reproductive techniques, the book points to what constitutes professional misconduct with the help of case studies. Abortion in India is a must read for the pro and the anti-abortion lobbyists.It brings to light the dilemma of some non-therapeutic abortions which are legally permissible but otherwise unethical.The readers become familiar with the use and abuse of products of the pharma world.The book touches law, reproductive medicine, demography and ethics. It will be of good use to the layman and policy makers alike. Abortion gives women the right over their sexuality and reproduction. Quick-fix methods can be detrimental in reproductive health. In a society which is led by patriarchal norms abortion rights give a women control over her sexuality. Being a pioneering effort for safe motherhood, the writer is sensitive to the rights of women to control reproduction. It is a thought-provoking book and an answer to all the pros and cons of abortion.