Bishop Dominic: The death of eight women & forced sterilisation is devastating

November 14, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Mass SterilisationMumbai, November 11, 2014: Eight women died and more than 25 are in serious condition after undergoing sterilisation at a state-run medical facility in the village of Pendari (Bilaspur District, Chhattisgarh).

Speaking to AsiaNews about the event, Bishop Dominic Savio Fernandes, auxiliary bishop of Mumbai, said that it was a “devastating loss of life”.

Some 83 women underwent the operation last Saturday as part of the annual campaign for state family planning.

For now, the administration has suspended the three doctors who performed the operations and set up a fact-finding team to investigate the incident. However, health authorities have denied allegations of negligence even though witnesses said that the sterilisations were performed in a single day and in a hurry to “meet the target.”

Concerned with the rapid population growth (1.3 billion people at present), the Indian government offers free sterilisation to women who want to avoid the risk and cost of having children. The beneficiaries of this “service” tend to come from very poor backgrounds.

To convince women to undergo tubal ligation, the authorities offer a financial “incentive” of 1,400 rupees (US$ 23). However, many women are unaware that they will no longer be able to have children.

“In India, female sterilisation accounts for nearly 66 per cent of contraceptive use, and the age of sterilisation is declining,” said Dr Pascoal Carvalho, a doctor in Mumbai and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who spoke to AsiaNews about the issue.

In 1996, two years after the International Conference on Population and Development, “India announced that it would follow a ‘target-free’ approach to family planning. In practice, at the state level, authorities and health officials award ‘bonuses’ to health professionals who promote contraception, including the sterilisation of women.”

“In 1952,” he said, “India became the first country in the world to launch an official family planning programme with the aim of reducing population growth, and most tragically it was Western governments who created an incentive for the sterilisation programme by leveraging  food aid for family planning.”

In addition to condemning “the apathy of the government and doctors towards these women,” Bishop Fernandes told AsiaNews, “the Catholic Church considers sterilisation a grave violation of the moral and natural law.”

Instead of engaging in this kind of practice, “the government should improve the condition and equipment of state health facilities, which are generally used by the country’s poorest citizens.”

– asianews

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