On the first of March this year, 26-year-old woman Swati Praveen Jamdade, died of a botched abortion that she was forced to undergo by her husband.

"The deceased woman's father Sunil Jadhav told police that her husband had called him and expressed his willingness to abort the female foetus,” said the superintendent of police, Dattatray Shinde.

“Despite Jadhav's objection, her husband went ahead with abortion, in which the woman died,” he added.

After her parents filed a case against her husband for forcing her to abort her third daughter which caused her death, it was discovered that the doctor who conducted her operation was in fact illegally carrying out abortions.

It is suspected that the doctor selectively aborted only female foetuses

Police officers, on the investigation trail, were stunned to discover 19 foetuses in a ditch, alongside a road and within walking distance from the hospital, where the doctor conducted the medical malpractice.

While some of them were dug up, others were carelessly thrown into blue plastic bags along with animal waste and sewage. The clinic is in the western district of the state of Maharashtra, close to the border of the state of Karnataka.

The doctor, Babasaheb Appasaheb Khidrapure is actually a homeopath and runs the hospital, which acts more as a dispensary, with his wife. The investigators uncovered 40 bags of skeletons, umbilical cords and other remains from the surrounding area.

"We have sent DNA samples of the 19 foetuses to the lab to ascertain the gender," said Shinde.

It was found that the pregnancies were terminated in advanced stages, in two hidden basement rooms. The rooms also contained a fridge fully stocked with medicines used to induce abortions and an opening that led out of the room to a drain, which was littered with medicine bottles half destroyed and charred medical waste.

Investigations reveal doctor was not licensed to perform abortions

Under the Medical Council of India guidelines, homeopathic doctors are not allowed to carry out abortions and the hospital was not registered under the Nursing Home Act either.

"Bharti hospital is not an MTP-registered centre as per records," said Dr Satish Pawar, director of Health Services in Maharashtra.

"There are three Acts which have been violated - the Nursing Home Act, the MTP Act and the PCPNDT Act," he added.

Varsha Deshpande, a member of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee for the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Act (PCPNDT), said, "How did the administration not know about it when everything was happening in the open? There could be more doctors involved and combing operations must be carried out in all border districts where sex ratio has fallen down drastically."

Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde called it a "heinous incident", while Maharashtra’s public health minister Dr Deepak Sawant said that the Maharashtra will work with the Karnataka government to halt female foeticide. He said that a committee has been set up to conduct an investigation into the matter and will coordinate with various departments to curb such practices.

"We have also asked the District Medical officer and civil surgeon to file their reports on the incident. Once the report comes, there will be appropriate action," said Sawant.

Khidrapure was arrested a day after the foetuses were discovered. He was caught absconding by five police teams. He is not the first Indian doctor accused of violated women’s bodies in the name of medicine, however. A doctor accused of conducting sterilisation operations that led to the death of 12 women and hospitalisation of another 65, was acquitted over a legal technicality, January of this year. MIMS

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