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Centre To Soon Finalize Extending Time Limit For Abortion Beyond 20 Weeks [Read Affidavit]

akanksha jain
6 Aug 2019 11:20 AM GMT
Centre To Soon Finalize Extending Time Limit For Abortion Beyond 20 Weeks [Read Affidavit]
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The Centre will soon take a stand on extending the time limit for terminating the pregnancy on a women's own will to 24 or 26 weeks from the present 12 weeks, the Delhi High Court has been informed. In an affidavit filed before the high court, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said it has initiated the process of inter-ministerial consultation for amendment in Medical...

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The Centre will soon take a stand on extending the time limit for terminating the pregnancy on a women's own will to 24 or 26 weeks from the present 12 weeks, the Delhi High Court has been informed.

In an affidavit filed before the high court, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said it has initiated the process of inter-ministerial consultation for amendment in Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 to increase the upper gestation limit for legal termination of pregnancies from 20 weeks to 24/26 weeks and will finalise the same as soon as possible.

The affidavit has been filed in response to a petition moved by advocate and activist Amit Sahni questioning the practicality of the MTP Act which prohibits termination of pregnancy even in case foetus is suffering from severe abnormality after a period of 20 weeks.

Petitioning that State should not force women to continue with the pregnancy and deliver babies with severe health defects, Sahni had rued how despite the National Commission for Women recommending extending the time limit for abortion and the government inviting public opinion the Draft MTP (Amendment Bill 2014) way back in year 2014 which extended the time limit from 20 to 24 weeks, the same was never tabled in Parliament.

To this, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in its affidavit that it had sent the final draft cabinet note for Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act Amendment after approval of the Finance Minister on March 1, 2019 to the Ministry of Law and Justice after seeking comments from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Niti Aayog.

The said note was returned by the Ministry of Law and Justice on March 14 stating that the Administrative Ministry may take a view of the matter as soon as the new government is sworn in since both the Houses of Parliament have been adjourned sine die.

"the ministry has already initiated the process of inter-ministerial consultation for amendment in Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and will finalise the same as soon as possible," said the affidavit.

The MTP Act was enacted in the year 1971. Section 3 provides that a registered medical practitioner can terminate pregnancy of 12 weeks while a pregnancy between 12-20 weeks can be terminated, if not less than two registered medical practitioner are of the opinion it is injurious to the health of the mother or if there is substantial risk that the child would suffer severe abnormalities.

For any pregnancy after 20 weeks, women have to move court as voluntarily causing miscarriage is a penal offence under Section 312 IPC.

Sahni says the laws are not practical as most of the tests/ scans to identify any severe abnormality or genetic disorder are conducted after 20 weeks of pregnancy and even as the medical science has developed significantly in these 48 years, the law on termination of pregnancy has not evolved.

He has sought direction to the Centre extend the length of pregnancy from "20 Twenty Weeks" as provided in the MTP Act by a further period of 4-6 weeks by bringing suitable amendment in Section 3(2) (b).

Click Here To Download Affidavit

[Read Affidavit]

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