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Union Cabinet Approves Bill To Raise Limit For Legal Abortions From 20 To 24 Weeks

29 Jan 2020 9:20 AM GMT
Union Cabinet Approves Bill To Raise Limit For Legal Abortions From 20 To 24 Weeks
The increased limit is for special categories of 'vulnerable women'.
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The Union Cabinet has approved a draft bill to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 to increase the upper time limit for legal abortions from 20 weeks to 24 weeks in special cases.

This was announced by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar in a press meet today. 

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2020 is likely to be tabled in the upcoming budget session of the Parliament, which starts on January 31. 

According to a press release by PIB, the benefit of increased upper limit will be 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.

The amendment also proposes to state that the upper gestation limit will not apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by Medical Board.

As per the MTP Act, termination of pregnancy exceeding twenty weeks is permissible only in exceptional cases of immediate risk to life of the woman.

 As per Section 3, pregnancy up to twelve weeks may be terminated by a registered medical practitioner,if he/ she forms an opinion in good faith that that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health. In case of pregnancy exceeding 12 weeks but not exceeding 20 weeks the said opinion will have to be formed by two registered medical practitioners.

Section 5, among other things, permits termination of pregnancy exceeding twenty weeks only in cases of immediate risk to life of the woman.

A PIL filed by a group of women challenging the restrictions of abortion is pending in the Supreme Court. The plea, on which the Court had issued notice in July 2019, contends that the 20-week limit for abortion is arbitrary and unreasonable. With the advent of science and technology, diagnosis of fetal abnormalities is possible at subsequent stages and with the advancement of science and technology it has become possible to terminate pregnancy even at later stages, contended the petitioners.

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