The lower House Lok Sabha has passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which will set to amend the Medical termination of pregnancy act, 1971. The amended bill has provision to increase the upper limit of legal abortions to 24 weeks for special categories of women.
The Bill which was approved by the Union Cabinet in January last got nod from the Lower House through Voice vote. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare stated that the proposed Bill seeks termination of pregnancy in cases involving victims of incest, rape survivors, minor girls, differently-abled girls or in case of a pregnancy that has substantial foetal abnormalities.
Currently, women seeking to terminate pregnancy beyond 20 weeks have to face a cumbersome legal recourse. This denies the reproductive rights of women.
“The bill is the first step towards the safety of women. We have had extensive consultation with several stakeholders. There was also a Group of Ministers and the bill was discussed in great detail,” he pointed out.
Harsh Vardhan said several petitions have been filed in the courts for termination of pregnancies beyond permissible limits. The Supreme Court saw 26 petitions related to medical termination beyond the prescribed period while the high courts saw over such 100 cases.
One of the salient features of the proposed law is “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 ‘vulnerable women including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, minors) etc”.
If pregnancy has to be terminated in 20 weeks, the opinion of one doctor is required. But beyond that, opinion of two doctors would be needed and one of them has to be a government physician.