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Reprod Health Matters. 2002 May;10(19):54-63.

Elective abortion as a primary health service in rural India: experience with manual vacuum aspiration.

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India allows abortion up to 20 weeks of pregnancy but places restrictions on abortion facilities and providers. Abortion services are especially deficient in rural areas. Although vacuum aspiration is safer, sharp curettage continues to be used by providers as they lack relevant training. This paper describes the provision of first trimester abortion services using manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) in a rural clinic in the state of Rajasthan over a four-year period. Non-use of anaesthesia increased safety and allowed women to return early to a normal routine. Of 534 women, none suffered major complications; 16 required repeat evacuation and the procedure failed in two. We recommend that models based on MVA and including medical methods be piloted in rural areas of a number of states of the country, to establish the feasibility of delivering first trimester abortion as a primary health service. Ways to increase access to second trimester procedures are also required. Current requirements for certification of private facilities are excessive and the process of obtaining certification is arduous. The law in India does not extend these norms to government facilities, which remain under-equipped and lack trained providers. We recommend that certification of facilities be liberalized and applied equally to government and private institutions. There is also a need to rapidly increase training capacity across the country.

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