Crime
Sumathi was found dead on the floor of Jayalakshmi’s house, with a foetus lying next to her.

A 35-year-old woman died in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district due to a botched abortion performed by a local quack.

Sumathi, from Kalambur village, was six months pregnant when she decided to approach Jayalakshmi for an abortion. According to sources, Sumathi borrowed Rs 2,000 from her mother and left the house without telling anyone where she was going.

However, Jayalakshmi’s procedure failed and Sumathi died of the resultant shock and haemorrhage.

In the wee hours of February 18, Jayalakshmi’s neighbours found Sumathi on the floor of her house, with the foetus lying next to her, and alerted the police.

Speaking to TNM, an official close to the investigation said, “Neighbours had suspected that she had been performing abortions in her house for some time now. The victim had stayed with Jayalakshmi for three days before she passed away.”

The police arrested Jayalakshmi, who denied having aborted the foetus. According to police sources, she said that she had merely given shelter and food to a poor woman who had come to her house.

Jayalakshmi has been booked under IPC sections 316 (causing death of unborn child by act amounting to culpable homicide) and 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.)

Health Department officials said that there were Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres near her village. “She could have approached any one of them, they are less than 3 kilometres from where she was,” one officer said.

Sumathi is survived by her husband and 10-year-old daughter.

While it is unclear if this was a sex-selective abortion, the presence of local quacks who perform these surgeries continues to haunt pockets of Tamil Nadu and its efforts to battle female foeticide.

According to a recently released NITI Aayog report on ‘Healthy States, Progressive India’, from the base years of 2012-2014 to 2013-2015, Tamil Nadu has seen a dip in its sex ratio from 921 to 911 females to 1000 men.

Speaking to TNM at the time, state Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan had said, “We still have to tackle pockets of challenges where there is female infanticide. It is an area of work we can link up with social welfare and anganwadis.”