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Campaigning for Safe Abortion Awareness

Location: Patna

Although abortion has been legal in India since 1971, Indian women continue to die as a result of undergoing unsafe abortions. Many women, especially in rural areas, are simply unaware that abortion is legal and still regard terminating a pregnancy as an underhanded procedure to be kept out of sight. In general, women seek abortions because they have too many children and as a result of contraceptive failure. Since even health workers in rural areas are not well informed about the criteria for legal abortion, however, accurate information at the grassroots level in rural communities is sorely lacking.

To combat this situation, in 2009 IDF undertook a project funded by Ipas targeting 45,000 women aged 15 to 40 in 267 villages in the Patna district. Using group meetings and simple educational games, wall paintings, and street performances, this intervention was designed to increase awareness of the legality of abortion, redirect women seeking abortion to primary care facilities, and inform them about different abortion techniques for different stages of pregnancy. In addition, the project educated women about, as well as providing direct access to, a range of contraceptive methods.

The project proved effective in communicating the basic message to the targeted community that abortion is safe, legal, and available. However, it was not initially successful in redirecting women to use public rather than private health services for abortion procedures; nor, following their exposure to the program materials, did the participants fully understand the different gestation stages at which different abortion techniques are implemented. Additional interventions are planned in order to address these issues further.

Click here for the project report (pdf).

Flip chart and other visual materials are used in safe abortion training sessions