Medical Termination of pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020
Recently, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020 was passed in Lok Sabha. For expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds.
- Aims 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.
MTP ACT 1971
- It is a law that legalized abortion in India up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on certain conditions and when provided by a registered medical practitioner at a registered medical facility.
- As per the provisions of the MTP Act, only the consent of woman whose pregnancy is being terminated is required.
- In case of below the age of 18 years, or a mentally ill woman, consent of guardian (MTP Act defines guardian as someone who has the care of the minor. This does not imply that only parent/s are required to consent) is required for termination.
CRITICISM OF MTP ACT 1971
Women seeking to terminate the pregnancy beyond 20 weeks have to face the cumbersome legal recourse. This denies the reproductive rights of women (as abortion is considered an important aspect of the reproductive health of women).
- Obstetricians argue that this has also spurred a cottage industry (kind of informal industry) of places providing unsafe abortion services.
- Fails to keep pace with advances in medical technology that allow for the removal of a foetus at a relatively advanced state of pregnancy.
- If a minor wants to terminate her pregnancy, written consent from the guardian is required.
Time since conception
MTP Act , 1971
MTP (Amendment) Bill, 2020
Up to 12 weeks
|Advice of one doctor||Advice of one doctor|
|12 to 20 weeks||Advice of two doctors||
Advice of one doctor
|20 to 24 weeks||Not allowed||
Two doctors for some categories of pregnant women
|More than 24 weeks||Not allowed||
Medical Board in case of substantial foetal abnormality
|Any time during the pregnancy||
One doctor, if immediately necessary to save pregnant woman’s life
Significance of the Bill
The Bill will provide greater reproductive rights to women as abortion is considered an important aspect of the reproductive health of women.
- Deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions are largely preventable provided services are performed legally by trained
- This will help in decreasing maternal morbidity and mortality and may also help in preventing wastage of resources invested in a pregnancy.
- The special categories of women include rape survivors, victims of incest, the differently abled and minors.
- 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.
Significantly, the Bill also applies to unmarried women and therefore, relaxes one of the regressive clauses of the 1971 Act, i.e., single women couldn’t cite contraceptive failure as a reason for seeking an abortion.
Issues with the Extension
A key aspect of the legality governing abortions has always been the ‘viability’ of the foetus.
- The preference for a male child keeps sex determination centres in business in spite of their illegal status. There are concerns that a more liberal abortion law can aggravate this state-of-affairs.
- According to 2017 data, 59 countries allowed elective abortions, of which only seven permitted the procedure after 20 weeks like Canada, China, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.