Last Updated on March 19, 2021 by The Health Master
The Rajya Sabha has approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 on March 16, almost a year after the Bill was approved in Lok Sabha on March 17 2020.
Salient features of amendments are as follows:
- Enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women which will be defined in the amendments to the MTP Rules and would include survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, minors) etc.
- Opinion of only one provider will be required up to 20 weeks of gestation and of two providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
- Upper gestation limit not to apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by Medical Board. The composition, functions and other details of Medical Board to be prescribed subsequently in Rules under the Act.
- Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force.
- The ground of failure of contraceptive has been extended to women and her partner.
As per the health ministry release, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 aims to expand access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds.
The amendments include substitution of certain sub-sections, insertion of certain new clauses under some sections in the existing Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, with a view to increase upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions and to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.
The release positions it as a step towards safety and well-being of the women and many women will be benefitted by this. Recently several petitions were received by the Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women.
The amendments will increase the ambit and access of women to safe abortion services and will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy.
Raising upper limit will empower women
Responding to the Bill, Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, gynecologist and obstetrician and IVF Expert, Nurture IVF Centre, says, “Abortion and reproductive coercion are women rights. Raising an upper limit of abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks in special categories will empower women by preserving and protecting their dignity.
Our country needs to be empowered and strong stand in the world of cultural competence by making it easier for women to safely and legally terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
Passing the bill for increasing the upper limit has shown the strong determination of the Indian government in accelerating the growth of women equally for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds.
However, sounding a note of caution she strongly recommends that, if a woman decides to go for abortion, till 24 weeks then she should do it under the observation and consulting an experienced gynaecologist and obstetrician for a safe abortion.
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