American e-commerce platform Amazon has found itself in hot soup in India once again after news reports emerged suggesting that illegal Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) kits were being sold undetected on the platform. The incident has come to light from the Kaithal district of Haryana where a case has been registered against four people, including Amazon and a case filed at the district court.
On March 27, Dr Gaurav Poonia, PNDT officer, acting as a customer ordered two MTP kits from Amazon and after seven days of placing the order, the kits arrived at his home from Odisha, with the bill of Rs 897. The cost of one MTP kit was Rs 413, however, after adding the price of both and applying discounts and handling charges, the cost came to Rs 897.
The sealed envelope from Amazon was not opened after delivery as Dr Poonia immediately informed the civil surgeon about the entire incident. The matter was subsequently brought to the notice of the District Collector (DC) as well, who in the presence of duty magistrate, District Drug Control Officer Mandeep Mann and Dr Lalit Jangra opened the abortion kit in the house of Dr Gaurav Poonia while videotaping it.
The fact that Amazon made an illegal abortion kit available so easily is the reason why the government has been apprehensive about the whole online delivery of medicines and other pharmaceutical items. And if MTP kits continue to be sold online in such a way, how will the health department contain the illegal abortions?
To prevent abortion in the country, special campaigns are run by the health departments of the centre as well as the states. Two laws that prohibit the sex selection of a foetus in India are the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP), as amended in 2002, and the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PNDT), as amended in 2002. The former Act prohibits abortion except only in certain qualified situations, while the latter prohibits the sex selection of a fetus with a view towards aborting it.
According to the 2011 census, there are 949 women in urban areas and 929 women in rural areas per 1000 men in the country. However, in predominantly patriarchal states like Haryana and Rajasthan, the figure barely crosses the 900 mark even today. The governments have been battling hard to correct the skew ratio but with the likes of Amazon allowing the selling and purchasing of illegal kits, the task becomes even more difficult.
Proper legal action needs to be taken on Amazon and the company that was supplying the kits to the platform, as well as those involved in the entire chain of production to delivery.