Each year, some 15.6 million abortions take place in India with the majority of women taking pills at home without adequate counselling.
Abortions are more than 22 times more common than the government's estimate of less than 700,000 terminations, produced by focusing on state-run hospitals and clinics.
Over 80 percent of abortions took place using drugs like mifepristone and misoprostol, 14 percent were performed surgically in clinics and hospitals, and 5 percent were conducted using other, typically unsafe, methods.
Incidence of abortion and unintended pregnancy
- Half of India's more than 48 million pregnancies were unintended
- A third of the unintended pregnancies resulted in abortions
- Close to three in four abortions were achieved using drugs from chemists and informal vendors, rather than from health facilities.
- The public sector which is the main source of health care for rural and poor women accounted for only a quarter of abortions.
- Many state-run hospitals and clinics do not offer abortion services
The research team also suggest that a shortage of trained staff and inadequate supplies and equipment are the primary reasons many public facilities don't provide abortion care.
This new evidence provides policymakers with information that is essential for designing and implementing effective reproductive health care programs.