Like Depo-Provera, Norplant was also sought to be introduced hastily without the necessary trials. A health providers’ dream come true, one could insert Norplant, and forget it, (even the woman), for a period of 3-5 years. More than any other contraceptive till then, sub-dermal implants such as Norplant took away a woman’s autonomy totally, since she could not remove it herself if she was suffering adverse effects or wished to get pregnant. Another key question surrounded the uncertainty of return of fertility. And the woman’s misery was compounded by the fact that health providers either refused early removal because it was a waste of an expensive contraceptive, or were not trained in its removal.
Alarmed by the implications of such a contraceptive, and armed with our experience of opposing other long-acting hormonal contraceptives, we launched a campaign to protest the callous, unethical large scale trials and promotion of Norplant. Aside from petitioning concerned authorities like the Prime Minister, the Indian Council for Medical Research and so on, we attempted to contact women recruited for trials of Norplant, and took to the streets with a play highlighting the coercive family planning programme, the politics of multinational corporations and the role of the health ministry. Ultimately, law suits filed against the manufacturers in other countries led to the withdrawal of Norplant and the attempts to introduce it in India also got stalled.
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