Islamabad - Legislatures at National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on National Health Services termed the internet and social media tools responsible for surge in abortions in the country, on Thursday.

The meeting of standing committee was held under the chairmanship of Khalid Hussain Magsi. The meeting discussed ‘The Islamabad Compulsory Vaccination and Protection of Health Workers Bill, 2015’, and ‘The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of non- Smoker Health (Amendment) Bill, 2017’on agenda.

However, the meeting raised concerns on the increased number of legal and illegal abortions in the country when a parliamentarian Dr Nisar Ahmad Jatt initiated discussion on reproductive health situation in the country.

Member National Assembly (MNA) Dr Nisar Ahmad Jatt remarked that abortion rate and specifically illegal abortion has increased very much in the country on which legislation is required.

Terming it a social issue, the MNA declared it against values of the Islamic country.

“Some sections are running business on this issue including doctors and midwives,” he said.

The MNA also remarked that rate of illegal abortions has increased and people are spending millions in this illegal practice.

MNA Zahra Wadood Fatemi remarked that after the 18th amendment surge in such cases has been observed when the Regional Health Units (RHUs) and Basic Health Units (BHUs) role was restricted.

Majority of the members at NA body viewed that illegal abortions are above in ratio than legal cases.

However, when the chair asked about the reason behind this issue, number of parliamentarians held ‘internet and mobile’ responsible behind the problem.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for National Health and Services, Saira Afzal Tarar, responding on the issue said that action must be taken against illegal practices; however, number of abortions after marriage is more than before marriage.

She also stated that government under population welfare program is enhancing the use of contraceptives to avoid the abortions.

She said, “Sometimes parents don’t want a child for some reason”.

The minister also said that the issue also has a positive side and people are planning about the number of children they want.

“Mother and child health is more important,” said minister.

The parliamentarians also asked the ministry to look into the cause behind increasing birth rate with operation and decrease in natural births.

The committee appreciated immunization process being carried out by the provinces. The committee discussed ‘Islamabad Compulsory Vaccination and Protection of Health Workers Bill, 2015’ in detail and passed the same as introduced by Dr Zahra Wadood Fatami, MNA, unanimously.

The committee recommended that the input would be received by the relevant departments before the next meeting for considering ‘The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health (Amendment) Bill, 2017’, (moved by Dr Nikhat Shakeel Khan, MNA). The committee deferred the bill till its next meeting.

MNAs, Dr Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti, Dr Nisar Ahmad Jatt, Shakila Khalid Luqman, Zahra Wadood Fatemi, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Dr Mahreen Razaque Bhutto, Dr Muhammad Azhar Khan Jadoon, Col (Retd) Dr Amirullah Marwat, Dr Nikhat Shakeel Khan, Qari Muhammad Yousaf, Syed Ghazi Gulab Jamal and Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan attended the meeting.