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SC rules out ban on morning-after pill
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
The Supreme Court refused to admit a PIL seeking ban on antipregnancy pills, saying entertaining a petition in this regard had the potential of spreading a scare among women.
The claim of i-pill manufacturers that it could avert pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unsafe sex spurred a Kerala-based charitable trust to claim before the apex court that it was in fact a pregnancy termination drug that violated stringent provisions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.
Arguing for the organisation ‘Krupa Profilers’ before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and Deepak Verma, counsel M P Raju said those taking the pill were actually killing the foetus formed after fertilisation.
“There is an urgent need to control population. There is equal weight in the argument for protection of women’s dignity. But some importance must be given to the small human life that is already formed. Someone needs to protect it,” Raju argued and said taking the pill amounted to aborting the pregnancy illegally in breach of MTP Act as fertilisation usually takes place within 30 hours of intercourse.
Far from being impressed, the Bench questioned the scientific basis for the claim and said the government must have considered these aspects before allowing sale of the emergency anti-pregnancy pill. “You do not have a case where it has been misused. We will not even consider entertaining the PIL as it could scare people,” the Bench said while dismissing the PIL.
Use of contraceptives declined by 3%
The use of contraceptives declined by nearly 3% in the last 10 years, the latest health survey conducted by the government across the country has shown.
However, the decrease in contraceptive prevalence does not add up with other indicators in the space like decline in the total fertility rate and increased awareness about use of contraceptives. The data also showed an increasing trend in use of pills and condoms.
According to the fourth National Family Health Survey , which covered 6 lakh households, prevalence of contraceptives dropped from 56.3% in 2005-06 to 53.5% in 2014-15. While the use of modern methods also declined marginally , the decline was mainly triggered by a drop in the sterilisation rate.
Male sterilisation, already low, dropped from 1% to 0.3% between NFHS-3 and NFHS-4. Moreover, rate of female sterilisation also witnessed a decline from 37.3% to 36%. Use of modern methods dropped from 48.5% to 47.8% during the period.
Health ministry officials said the “incongruous“ data was mainly because of sociocultural reasons. “People often hesitate to answer questions related to use of contraceptives. We do not get correct responses and often silence is taken for negative.We agree that the data is incongruous,“ an official said. Health secretary C K Mishra said, “The health ministry will conduct a detailed study to assess the situation so that it can take immediate steps if required.“
India's total fertility rate (TFR), reflective of population control measures, dropped from 2.7 children per woman in NFHS-3 to 2.2 children in the latest survey . The study also noted a considerable decline in the TFR in each of the 30 states. The unmet needs for family planning also declined over the last decade from 13.9% to 12.9%.
…but increased usage in several categories
Unmarried sexually active women and contraceptive usage
A larger number of unmarried, sexually active women are now opting for safe sex. The National Family Health Survey 2015-16, conducted by the health ministry, found that the use of condoms had gone up from 2% to 12%in 10 years among sexually active unmarried women aged 15 to 49 years.
The maximum use of condoms among unmarried women was seen in the 20-24 age group. The survey found that three out of eight men believed contraception was “women’s business”, with men having nothing to do with it.
The good news is that the knowledge of contraceptive methods is almost universal in the country and 99% of married women and men aged 15-49 know of at least one method. However, this hasn’t translated into widespread safe sex. The contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) was just 54% among married women aged 15 to 49, with only 10% using a modern method.
A large number of women still used “traditional” contraceptive methods like following the menstrual rhythm or withdrawal. Modern measures include condoms, female and male sterilisation, pills, and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
‘Female sterilisation most popular family planning tool’
Among unmarried, sexually active women, though, the prevalence of modern contraceptive methods was much higher, the survey found. A fairly large number were opting for female sterilisation as well, especially in the 25-49 years age group. In fact, female sterilisation was found to be the most popular method of contraception whereas less than 1% of women had ever used emergency contraceptive pills, the survey found.
The fact that the number of unmarried women using contraception has gone up is especially heartening in the face of other statistics thrown up by the NFHS-4 survey, like 20% of the men believing that a woman who used contraception may become promiscuous.
Belief in the efficacy of condom is high: 61% of men reported that if a condom was used correctly, it protected against pregnancy most of the time. An additional 25% of men said a condom sometimes protected against pregnancy if it was used correctly.
The use of contraceptive methods was the lowest in Manipur, Bihar and Meghalaya (24% each) and the highest in Punjab (76%). Among UTs, contraceptives use was lowest in Lakshadweep (30%) and highest in Chandigarh (74%).
The survey also found that 65% of Sikh women and Buddhist/Neo-Buddhist women used modern contraception, compared with 38% of Muslim women. Contraceptive use increased with wealth, from 36% of women in the lowest wealth quintile to 53% in the highest quintile. Almost seven in 10 (69%) of modern contraceptive users obtained their method from the public health sector, the survey found. The NFHS-4 consisted of interviews of 6,01,509 households with a response rate of 98%.