Centre increases upper limit of legal abortions


In News 

On October 13, 2021, the federal government raised the legal abortion limit for particular categories of women from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. The new guidelines were notified by the central government under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, which were passed by Parliament on March 16, 2021, with Rajya Sabha's approval. On March 17, 2020, the bill was passed by the Lok Sabha.

About New Guidelines 

The 24-week legal abortion restriction reflects advances in medical technology that allow for the removal of a fetus at a reasonably advanced stage of pregnancy. 
The laws, however, will only apply to women and adolescents who have been the victims of rape, incest, or sexual assault, as well as those who suffer from mental diseases or impairments.

Objective

  •  Bill aims to increase women's access to safe and legal abortion services.
  • The amendments include the substitution of certain sub-sections and the insertion of certain new clauses under certain sections of the existing abortion act, with the goal of raising the upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions and strengthening access to comprehensive abortion care under strict conditions, without jeopardizing service and quality of safe abortion.

Key Features of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill

  • The amended bill proposes raising the upper gestation limit for particular groups of women, such as vulnerable women, such as rape survivors, incest victims, and others, such as differently-abled women and juveniles, from 20 to 24 weeks.
  •  The amended bill eliminates the upper gestation limit in cases of significant prenatal abnormalities.
  • The law proposes the establishment of a state-level medical board that will decide whether a pregnancy can be terminated after 24 weeks due to foetal abnormality.
  • Within three days of receiving the request, the medical board will evaluate the lady and her reports and issue an opinion on terminating the pregnancy.
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 aims to alter the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.
  • It proposes requiring one doctor's consent for pregnancy terminations up to 20 weeks of gestation and requiring two doctors' consent for pregnancy terminations between 20 and 24 weeks of gestation.
  • The board will also ensure that abortions are performed safely within five days of receiving a request for pregnancy termination.
  • The Medical Board's composition, functions, and other details shall be regulated later under the Act's Rules.
  • In addition, the name and other personal information of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated may only be given to a person authorized by law.

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