FOGSI divided over government's amendments to abortion law
The Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), an umbrella body of gynaecologists, has decided to support the ministry of health and family welfare department's proposed amendment to allow non-MBBS practitioners to perform abortions via its Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2014. However, not all of its members are in support of the decision.
A majority of doctors including the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Association of Medical Consultants have strongly objected to the ministry's suggestion.
Rumbles of dissent in FOGSI
Many of FOGSI's own members are against its stand of supporting the ministry's suggestion to allow ayurvedacharyas, homoeopaths and nurses to conduct MTP. These members say that the amendment will jeopardise the lives of women.
"I disagree with FOGSI's decision to support the move. Even early first trimester abortions can result in serious complications if done by untrained hands. When a large number of constituent societies and members have expressed their reservations, FOGSI could have been more proactive in addressing their concerns. In a democratic set-up, it is necessary for office bearers to take into consideration any contrary views before making final recommendations to the government. This, unfortunately, was not done and hence the rumbles of dissent," said Dr Sudhir Naik, gynaecologist and president elect of AMC.
FOGSI's stand on supporting the amendments has also triggered heated debates onsocial networking sites like Facebook, where gynaecologists have strongly opposed its stand and threatened to quit from the organisation.
Midwives, nurses can be trained, says FOGSI
Explaining the body's stand to support the amendments, Dr Suchitra Pandit, the president of FOGSI, said that its MTP committee has been working on these suggestions and strongly felt the need to increase provider base for MTP by giving imparting training. "Amendments were not born in a day. Since 2008, FOGSI has been working on this issue and the MTP committee had suggested these changes after discussing it with a group of experts. It was passed in the managing committee," said Dr Pandit.
Dr Pandit also said that for surgical abortions, the AYUSH members, midwives/nurses have to undergo special training and get a certification.
FOGSI, IMA members to meet
Two FOGSI representatives are scheduled to meet IMA members in Delhi on Thursday to explain their stand. For its own members, FOGSI plans to hold meetings and sending them letters to pacify them and make them understand its decision.
The proposed Act, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2014, was put up for people's review till Monday, after which the draft will be finalised. With 223 member societies and over 29,310 individual members spread over the length and breadth of the country, FOGSI is one of the largest membership based organizations of specialized professionals.
The draft bill has also proposed to increased the abortion limit from the present 20 weeks to 24 weeks.