Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeking an amendment to the MTP Act, 1971 was recently passed in the Lok Sabha.
- It seeks to increase the upper limit for abortion permitting under special circumstances from 20 weeks to 24.
- “Special categories of women” include rape survivors, victims of incest, divyangs, and minors.
- The bill proposes requiring the opinion of a registered medical practitioner (RMP) to terminate pregnancy for up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- It also provides for the requirement of the opinion of two couples for termination of pregnancy of 20 to 24 weeks.
- Constitution of Medical Board: Every state government needs to constitute a medical board. These medical boards shall consist of the following members: (i) a gynecologist, (ii) a pediatrician, (iii) a radiologist or sonologist, and (iv) any other number of members, as may be notified by the State Government.
- Under the bill, such unwanted pregnancy may constitute a serious injury to the pregnant woman’s mental health if a failure of any device or method to limit the number of children by a woman or her partner occurs.
- The current abortion law, which is nearly five decades old, allows abortions to have a maximum fetal gestation period of 20 weeks.
- In recent years, there has been strong demand for abortion to increase the fetal gestation period by more than 20 weeks.
- The move to amend the MTP Act, 1971 is a progressive step towards the empowerment of women. It will give women more reproductive rights because abortion is considered an important aspect of women’s reproductive health. Deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions can be largely prevented provided services are legally carried out by trained physicians.
Abortion laws around the world:
Abortion laws change around the world. It is learned that about 60 countries set a gestational threshold.
- 52%, including France, Britain, Austria, Ethiopia, Italy, Spain, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and even Nepal, allow for termination beyond 20 weeks upon diagnosis of fetal abnormalities.
- Some countries go beyond these limits even with laws in 23 countries — Canada, Germany, Vietnam, Denmark, Ghana, and Zambia — allowing for abortions at any time during pregnancy at the request of the mother.