The Tamil Nadu government launched an injectable contraceptive called ‘Antara’ last week. The Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare department stated that this will be available in all state hospitals and colleges. More importantly, ‘Antara’ will be provided free of charge. TN Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar stated that the availability of more contraceptive options will contribute in decreasing the child and maternal mortality rates in the state. According to a report, this move was intended to have safer abortions.
But the irony is not lost on us. This is the same government that refuses to make oral contraceptive pills freely available for women in pharmacies. Tamil Nadu’s ban on over the counter emergency oral contraceptives is still in place. Introducing safer abortion options for women is welcome, but it would be even more pertinent to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
The free contraceptive injections will have the same side effects as an oral contraceptive pill, but is likely to be more effective, according to the report. But hey, TN government, have you heard that an emergency contraceptive pill can easily prevent the very need for this injection? The emergency contraceptive pill was banned in TN for “moral concerns“. I mean, seriously?
Since 2016, there have been petitions to make the emergency contraceptive pill readily available in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu. There have been several accounts of women who have suffered abortions due to the unavailability of emergency contraceptives within the 72-hour time frame for consumption.
While free contraceptive injections are good to have on stock, how many horror stories of women suffering through abortions will it take for the TN government to make emergency contraception easily available for women? The least they can do is at least not ride the “women empowerment” wagon through the contraceptive injection launch, while it dangles moral policing as a reason for jeopardising women’s sexual and mental health.