COVID-19 restrictions compromised abortion access for 1.85 million women in India

The first three months of India’s national lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19 compromised abortion access for an estimated 1.85 million women, according to a new study by the Ipas Development Foundation (IDF).

Restrictions on travel, combined with the health system focus on battling COVID-19, have significantly impacted three points of access—public health facilities, private health facilities and pharmacies. Sushanta Kumar Banerjee, chief technical officer for IDF, says 3.9 million abortions normally would have taken place during the three-month period. Access was most significantly reduced during the first month of the lockdown but is expected to improve now that restrictions have been eased.

Vinoj Manning, chief executive officer of IDF, says the study highlights the need for a recovery plan to improve abortion services as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold. Another critical takeaway, he says, is that “many of these 1.85 million women will be coming into public and private hospitals seeking second-trimester abortions and we should not be turning them away a second time.”

IDF has recommended several measures to improve access to abortion services, including assessing health facilities’ preparedness, especially for second-trimester abortions; streamlining the supply chain for medical abortion drugs; and finding ways to offset additional travel and out of pocket expenditures that women face during the pandemic.

Learn more about the study.

For more information, contact media@ipas.org.  

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