Personal and economic freedom of young adults in India has resulted in rampant unmarried sex and abortion, including use of abortifacients.
-- From "As use of morning-after pills rises in India, health workers voice concerns" by Emily Wax, Washington Post Foreign Service 1/2/10
As the nation's economic boom draws growing numbers of young people into the workforce, they are leaving the confines of family, moving to big cities and often declaring their independence through sex.
Doctors report that use of the ["morning after"] I-pill, which can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, is soaring. But they also worry that young women are misusing the pill by taking it too often or in place of contraceptives.
Many young women report using the emergency contraceptive pills several times a month instead of using condoms, increasing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, gynecologists say. This year, dozens of ads for the I-pill, also known worldwide as the morning-after pill, have flooded Indian TV channels, highway billboards and women's magazines.
Many gynecologists and health workers say that the pills have helped women avoid abortions, which are legal in India but are often performed by untrained workers in unsanitary conditions. Health workers say the pill's availability also empowers women, who face many hurdles in the country's tradition-bound, patriarchal culture.
As many as 7 million abortions are performed in India annually, and more than 20,000 women die of botched abortions each year, according to the Mumbai-based Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India. The group says that the number of deaths is probably higher in reality because many families and health workers are afraid to report them.
Few restrictions have been placed on the pill's availability. In interviews, several high school and college students in New Delhi and Mumbai said they were using I-pills but not informing their parents. More than 70 percent of India's population of 1.16 billion is younger than 35.
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