Mifipriston, the new high-tech abortion drug being freely sold over the counter in the state, may usher in an era of do-it-yourself-abortions, experts fear. Already, the sale is brisk as the tablets sell like laxatives, they claim, and even as the pharmaceutical concerns treat the city gynaecologists to five-star meals ostensibly to introduce them to "the revolutionary approach to medical abortion", the tribe is clearly a worried lot. In a state which has at least 40 per cent of abortions carried out by quacks, this 'abortion-made-easy' approach will only spell disaster, they believe.
Since 2 months this issue has been hotting up since the launch. The experience so far with the wonder drug has only added to the sense of alarm among the gynaecologists, sources claim. The issue will be the main item on the agenda during the forthcoming meetings of the Indian Medical Association and the Private Nursing Home Associations. And, going by the agitation among the medical fraternity, the sessions this time will definitely be stormy, says Dr Neeraj Bora, president IMA. Claiming that top gynaecologists had expressed serious misgivings at the time of the launch, Dr Manju Shukla, a gynaecology professor, said: "The drug companies had assured that the drugs would only be sold under medical prescription.
If self-administered or given by unqualified dais the drug could lead to major complications, from sever haemorrhages to incomplete abortion." Sounding a note of caution was Dr Saroj Shrivastava who claimed to have two particularly worrying experiences with the drug. In one of them, a 27-year-old patient who had taken the tablets suffered loss of 2000 cc blood during suction process and the only way to save her was to perform an emergency hysterectomy, she claimed. The other was an incomplete abortion.
Given in the hands of unscrupulous fly-by-night abortionists who are thriving unchecked in UP, this would wreak havoc here, she said. "Ninety per cent of the patients may have no problems but when there is one it will have to be addressed to immediately," she cautioned.Not every patient has conveyance or accessibility to medical facility, fears Dr Madhu Gupta. To avoid life-threatening emergency, which cannot be absolutely ruled out, the patients need to be both alert and aware, which is very rarely the case in UP. The drug requires a constant supervision and a medical follow-up, says Gupta. However, its free availability like a laxative will only prompt women to indulge in experimentation which needs to be discouraged.