Recently Hidden Pockets set out to find different sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in the city of joy, Kolkata.
So we decided to picked out a few of the available public health service providers in the city to understand the state of SRH services in the city. Since Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) usually features on our list of recommendations in the cities that we map, we decided to start with FPAI.
What happened to Right to Information in Kolkata?
The FPAI centre in Kolkata is located in Etally. The nearest bus stop is located at 5 minutes walking distance. The centre is located on the inside of a market road. It is a rather old building with a board outside that says Family Planning Association of India and lists all the services provided at the centre. The first floor has the ward and the office is on the second floor.
On requesting for information about the services provided at the centre, the categorical response given by the medical officer was “Go to the Kolkata headquarters for any information about the services provided here. We will not give you any information.” It was quite strange considering that the list of services provided at the centre is listed on the name board displayed outside on the door.
It became important to look into other sexual and reproductive health service centres in the city that were approachable and also provided different services at a reasonable cost. More importantly, were there any reasonable government hospitals in the city providing SRH services?
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Legal things to remember while visiting clinics in Kolkata:
If you want an abortion, you are not doing anything illegal. It is totally legal under the MTP (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act of 1971.
Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971, any woman can get an abortion within 20 weeks of her pregnancy under the following circumstances:
- If the continuation of the pregnancy would be a risk to the physical or mental health and well being of a woman
- If the foetus shows an abnormality in the scan and tests, and thus confirms that if it is born it would be severely handicapped.
[Often, many women are not sure about the time duration of the pregnancy, as in they cannot say for sure, in which week of pregnancy they are in. Thus they are not able to make the right decision about which method of abortion is suited for them. There are different abortions for different weeks of pregnancy. You can chat with us on our Whatsapp Careline and we can help you assess in which week of pregnancy you are in and what are the options you have for abortion: ]
For abortion in clinics in Kolkata, these are some of the basic things you need to keep in mind:
For the first 8 weeks a woman can have a medical abortion
- In a medical abortion, you will be given certain medications to terminate the pregnancy.
- The pill is extremely effective in 95% of cases. Taking the pill after 8 weeks of pregnancy can lead to an incomplete abortion.
- It is always important to follow up with your doctor when you develop complications following an abortion using medical abortion pills
After 8 weeks the safest method to get an abortion is by having a surgical abortion
- Up to 12 weeks, the preferred method is Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA). This is a minor surgical procedure and does not require any overnight hospitalization. You can return home the same day after the procedure.
- Beyond 12 weeks, the surgical procedure might require you to be hospitalized overnight.
The cost factor
Not all doctors are allowed to do an abortion. Under the MTP Act, only a Registered Medical Practioner is allowed to give an abortion. These are doctors who have undergone training to give an abortion. Also, not all hospitals and clinics are permitted to give abortions. Only those hospitals and clinics (government or private) which are registered as Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) centres can give an abortion. The cost for abortion varies from doctor to doctor in various private hospitals and clinics.
Getting psychological support while seeking an abortion
Getting an abortion can be an extremely challenging time for any woman, hence it is important for women to not only seek safe, legal abortion from a qualified doctor but also seek support for emotional health and well being.
What does Hidden Pockets offer to young clients?
- We will connect you with a good doctor who will not judge you for wanting an abortion or that you are unmarried.
- We will ensure that you have all your documents ready before you go to a doctor.
- We will help you assess your health conditions.
- We will provide constant guidance with regard to the needed tests, medicines.
- Our team of counsellors will provide you real-time support for pre abortion as well as post abortion.
- We will help you make the best decisions that take into consideration your circumstances.
Post-abortion care is important
Once the abortion is done, many women think the ordeal is over and thus there is no necessity to go back to the doctor. Even if the doctor has recommended coming back after a few days, many women opt out of going back to the doctor, thinking there is nothing more to abortion, now that it is all done. However, this is not a healthy choice. There are reasons why your doctor has asked you to come back after a few days. Post-abortion care can avoid a lot of complications for you.
To know more read: Post Abortion Care: 5 Things You should Know
If you want to know more about our work from the people who have received our services, you can read the testimonials.
Note: Hidden Pockets studies focus on recommending at least one SRH service provider in any city that we go out after personal assessment of the centre for different parameters. However we could not go beyond 2 government service providers during our time there.
PS: “FPA India clinics may charge, what we prefer to call as a ‘partial user fee’ to the clients for seeking abortion or any other SRH service. This fee is very subsidized and helps the Association meet some running costs. However, all FPA India clinics also have a “NO REFUSAL POLICY”, which states that no client walking into any FPA India facility is denied any service, especially if he/she is unable to afford even the subsidized fee. Thus, poor and marginalized clients can also access quality services in FPAI clinics. Only when the facility is not equipped to provide a particular service (for example some client may need a specialized service, or admission or higher level emergency care) are clients to other facilities.”