Thursday, August 13 2020


Illegal abortion service on the rise

Update: August, 22/2018 - 09:00
Doctors check patients at the Reproductive Health Centre of Từ Dũ Hospital in HCM City. - VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Abortion service at 10 weeks of pregnancy is being advertised on several websites and provided at some obstetrics clinics in HCM City, although obstetrics clinics are only allowed by the Ministry of Health to perform abortions on fetuses under 6 weeks old.

Visitors to certain websites claimed to be of obstetrics clinics will not only see pop-up advertisements for abortion service but also receive consultation from online counsellors, reported.

Typing up on the address bar, a website with lots of blinking advertisements appeared. The title “International Polyclinic” was written on the top left, and one of the advertisements said: “Safe abortion at 16 weeks at HCM City International Polyclinic”.

A chat window appeared, and someone who claimed to be ‘doctor Minh Anh’ offered to provide online consultation. Asked whether an abortion can be done at 15 weeks, he replied: “We can provide abortions that are painless, or try to reduce as much as pain as possible during the abortion. It takes about 20 minutes. Our patients can resume sexual activity not long after.”

The same service was provided on the website of the Đại Đông General Clinic. A chat window popped up on this website with a mobile phone number of an online counsellor named Nguyệt. Appeared to be cautious, Nguyệt advised that the patient be taken to the clinic for a proper checkup before deciding on an abortion.

But when asked whether an abortion can be carried out right after the checkup, she said: “Yes”.

At the Đại Đông General Clinic on Cộng Hòa Street in Tân Bình District, there was an inconsistency between what the staff and the manager said about its abortion service.

“Seventeen-week abortions can be done here, but lots of medical tests and examinations must be carried out beforehand,” one staff member told reporter during a consultation.

But clinic manager Trần Thúy Linh said they only perform abortions on fetuses under seven weeks old.

“Our staff members are still in training, so they don’t know much about what we do here,” she said. “I will make it clear to them later.”

There are 482 obstetrics clinics in HCM City by the end of June 2018, according to the city’s health department.

Obstetrics clinics that terminate fetuses over six weeks old will receive fines of VNĐ30-70 million (US$1,300-3,000) as regulated in the 2013 Government’s Decree No 176 on administration sanctions for medical violations.

Minors and abortion

About 50-60 abortions are performed at the Hà Nội Obstetrics & Gynecology Hospital per day with suction aspiration, according to doctor Lương Tâm Phúc, head of the hospital’s Family Planning Department. 

Twenty per cent of the department’s patients are from 14-17 years old, some of them were at 22 weeks when requesting an abortion, Phúc said.

“There were days when we perform 60 abortions in one morning,” he said.

The number of minors coming to the hospital for abortions has been on the rise, said doctor Nguyễn Thị Bích Ngọc, who provides counsel to the careless teenagers.

“A 14-year-old recently came to us for her second abortion,” she said. “But the fetus was already 26 weeks old, so we refuse.”

Although it is their job to handle difficult situations, sometimes doctors like Ngọc can’t hold back emotions, seeing the state their young patients are in.

“There was a patient who was taken by her mother to see me last July, who was always holding a teddy bear in her hand,” she said.

“What saddens me most is that their families are always the last one to find out about their pregnancies." — VNS

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