Abortion is legal in India, but it’s only when a woman goes to the clinic that she discovers the hurdles and the stigmatising that is so common among doctors and others in authority.
BY NEHA DIXIT
ILLUSTRATION BY KARTHIKEYAN R
She checked on Google maps. Nangloi was 18 kilometres from the North campus of Delhi University. The metro yellow line got her there in less than an hour. A newly-constructed three–storied building stood behind the mesh of electric wires hanging from a half-bent pole. The exterior was tinted silver glass fitted into copper panels. A yellow board declared the name of the doctor, boasting several international degrees and medals in gynaecology. The receptionist asked her to sit in the waiting room.
“There were three other women there, all in their twenties,” she recalls.
She saw the doctor after half an hour. “He saw my mangalsutra and asked me ‘Are you really married?’, to which I had to confidently reply in the affirmative. I made up a story about how my husband is travelling and that’s why he couldn’t accompany me.”
An ultrasound and a pelvic examination later, the doctor confirmed that she had an incomplete abortion because of pills she had taken before, and that infection had set in. He recommended surgical evacuation. “He said the only option to get rid of it was through some vacuum aspiration method which would cost Rs. 10,000.”
She got Rs. 3,500 per month as pocket money, which included travel to college. Her friend Gayatri lent her Rs. 2,000, and another friend from college contributed Rs. 2,000. “I was still short by Rs. 2,500. I lied to my father. I told him my friend urgently needed money to pay the security (deposit) at her paying guest accommodation.”
Her name is Mitra. She was 20 years old, in her second year of college. Two weeks earlier, she had found out that she was pregnant.
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