It has taken a long time for women to be able to speak up about their rights and be considered as an equal member of society. Considering the scenario of Tamil Nadu in India, it seems that there is still a long way to go.
For months, the pharmacies in Tamil Nadu have witnessed a downfall in the availability of certain drugs including Levonorgestrel, which is also known as the “After morning pill.” Tamil Nadu had not been entirely happy about Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) since its advent in 2010. Even then, the pills were widely available for women to use until the year 2016, after which these became impossible to buy. People are hinting on the government’s move of shadow banning the drug as no legal order has been given in this account. However, whenever a pharmacist is asked about the pill, the answer often is, “We don’t trade these!”
What is the drug Levonorgestrel and why is it the talk of the hour?
When a Bangalore based office worker asked for Levonorgestrel, she was not even aware that she was given another drug that causes abortion, hoodwinked as the formal one. Since she had known the consequences of having these drugs, she could have easily avoided it and walked away. However, what is traumatizing is the mere unavailability of such an important, essential medicine and the sale of another type of drug in the name of it without any prescription.
The drug Levonorgestrel is used to prevent unwanted pregnancy resulting from unprotected sex (it can be due to not using a condom, or slipping or the tearing of it). Failing to use any other birth control measure also may lead to the use of this drug. Usually, a woman needs to consult a doctor and get a prescription to be aware of when and how to use it. It is shocking that this drug is used in all the parts of parts, even without a prescription. The same was the case here too.
The dose needs to be taken and swallowed by the mouth within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The doctor’s advice is primary. In case of any problems, consult with the doctor immediately.
Even though these “after morning” pills are safer in comparison to the abortion pills, the unavailability of this drug is on the rise. In the meantime, the abortifacient drug is widely available and is given silently in place of the correct pill.
The abortion pills are derogative in its effect on the body and health of women and this huge sale of the drug all over Tamil Nadu, as a replacement is an alarming reason for the rise in the health threats of women. Doctors are worried that abortifacient drugs are easily available even without a doctor’s prescription. The ignorant usage of these pills can lead to several complications in women like low blood pressure level, excessive bleeding, missed abortion, incomplete miscarriage, and can even be fatal to them.
The replacement offered-
The state health minister C. Vijaya Baskar launched “Antara” which is a central government scheme that gives contraception injections to delay or avoid pregnancies. Implementation of this has already started at a Government hospital for women and children at Egmore in Chennai; women have begun to receive this medicine.
Is it really all about sex?
If one is really honest, they can see a definite pattern to this. For each time, a woman had sex, the intake of a single pill would be enough. However, now that the government is making this private issue, vaguely public, and under their vigilance, women do have a problem. Meanwhile, the entire nation is towards the step to being understanding and equal, Tamil Nadu has deeply upset the mass.
After much research, when the pharmacists are confronted, they reveal that they are ordered to not allow the sale of emergency contraceptives by the Drugs Control Authority, on certain “moral grounds“. What is utterly surprising is that women commissions, police, and certain NGOs wanted the ban on the products since they believed it promoted free sex. The 2016 Director of Drugs Control, N. Selvaraju said that he is not against ‘women’s rights‘ but found this morally alarming. According to him, women would think the pill to be an alternative to getting pregnant hence prefer it and “do whatever they feel like“. He feels such an attitude is not acceptable. The current director of drugs control reported that” We wanted Levonorgestrel pills to be re-labeled as prescription or schedule H drugs and disallowed their sale as over-the-counter drugs” as the drug of over 0.75mg was sold in place of 0.1mg, without prescription.
This patriarchal mindset that a woman needs to stop using her own body rights, and that the government is clearly keeping track of what the women must do to abide by certain ‘moral rules‘ created by the narrow ethos is the discussion of the hour.
Are we really progressing? Should we not stop making baseless laws according to the outdated and harmful social ‘norms and values’ and instead help the society evolve, for the better, as it naturally should?