The BMC data also showed that no medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) was carried out in the B Ward (Mohammed Ali Road) throughout the pandemic years (Representative image)

MUMBAI: Fewer abortions and medical termination of pregnancy took place during the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected 11 lakh Mumbaikars and killed close to 20,000 so far.
As against 35,000 abortions on an average in a year in the city, the first year of the pandemic saw a 40% drop with only 20,886 women undergoing abortion and medical termination of pregnancy between April 2020 and March 2021.
The second year of the pandemic saw an increase to 28,804 between April 2021 and March 2022, said south Mumbai resident Chetan Kothari, who got the information from the BMC under the RTI Act.
The BMC data also showed that no medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) was carried out in the B Ward (Mohammed Ali Road) throughout the pandemic years. The A Ward, too, only saw 30 and 31 MTP in the two pandemic years. In the first year of the pandemic, only nine of the 24 wards had four-digit figures, with K-West Ward having the highest at 2,750 medical terminations.
Health activists and experts said the drop indicates women had poor access to abortion services in the city, but civic officials said it’s possible couples were cautious and used temporary birth control measures.
“Abortion services were available at all public centres throughout the pandemic, including the lockdown,” said BMC executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare. Transport was an issue during the Covid lockdown months that would have found it difficult for women to travel to public MTP centres, especially in the first year of the pandemic.
A civic doctor said Covid had a psychological impact on many, with many couples preferring to delay childbirth. “The fact is that birth rate, too, dropped significantly in the city in the last two years. The rate hasn’t yet improved,” said Dr Gomare.
She added migration out of the city could also have played a role in fewer abortions. Many families have still not returned to Mumbai after leaving in 2020, or only the males have returned for economic reasons while their families have stayed back in villages.
Health rights activist Dr Nikhil Datar concurred that migration affected abortion numbers. “Many families left the city during the first year of the pandemic but there could be other reasons as well.” For instance, he said, there is no proper count of the number of women who accessed medical termination pills.
Sangeeta Rege of CEHAT (Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes) said services for sexual and reproductive health suffered in the pandemic, especially in the private sector, which was erratic in providing services.

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