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Medical termination of pregnancy: When to terminate pregnancy?

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How do you terminate pregnancy that is unwanted?

Spontaneous abortion occurs when  the foetus stops growing inside the womb for some reason and is expelled from the uterus naturally. Sometimes you may need to deliberately terminate pregnancy. Medical Termination of Pregnancy or MTP on the other hand is an abortion which is carried out or induced by deliberate medical means. Its purpose is to do away with unwanted pregnancy.

The pregnancy may be an unwanted one if 

  • there has been a failure of contraception,
  • the mother is very young and not ready to be a parent,
  • she cannot afford to look after the baby either physically or financially,
  • she does not want to be a single parent,
  • the pregnancy has been caused by rape or incest,
  • she does not wish to disclose that she has had sex and is pregnant or
  • the family is complete.  

Are medical reasons involved to terminate pregnancy?

Termination of the pregnancy may also be advised for medical reasons such as the possibility of physical or mental harm to either mother or child if the pregnancy continues.  For example, hereditary or genetic defects may be detected in the foetus or there may be a structural defect in the uterus of the mother or other health problem that could make a full term pregnancy unsafe for her.

Till what stage there is a chance to  terminate pregnancy by taking medicines ?

MTP can be legally carried out only if the pregnancy is up to 20 weeks of gestation. The earlier the abortion is carried out the safer it is for the mother. When the pregnancy is up to 9 weeks of gestation the pregnancy can be terminated by taking medicines.

At which stage, we have to go with  surgical termination :

If the pregnancy is more than 10 weeks the pregnancy has to be terminated by surgical means. It is then called a surgical termination of pregnancy.

Both medical and surgical termination of pregnancy must be carried out by a qualified doctor and one who has been trained in performing MTPs. This is to reduce the risks, such as a perforated uterus, that can occur in the hands of untrained professionals. It is also to ensure that the termination is complete as an incomplete termination can have serious consequences such as excessive bleeding, infections and even death.

Who has the right to take a decision to terminate pregnancy?

It is totally a woman’s prerogative as to whether or not she wants to continue the pregnancy. If a woman does not wish to have a baby it is her right to terminate the pregnancy. Women may consult their husbands or their parents on the issue but the last decision stands with her.


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