Taking in view the safety and well-being of women and considering the increasing need and demand for increased gestational limits, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 2nd March, 2020. The Government introduced the amendment in light of various petitions which are filed for the Supreme Court or various High Courts seeking permission from the Court for aborting pregnancy, beyond the present permissible limit, at gestational age. The petitions are filed on the grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancy due to sexual violence faced by women.
Introduction in Lok Sabha
The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan. The primary objective of the Bill is to amend Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, so as to extend the upper limit of medical termination of pregnancy, from the present limit of 20 weeks to 24 weeks. The extension is to be done for certain category of women which will be defined further in the MTP rules. The certain categories mentioned above will also include “vulnerable women” including rape victims.
- As per the new Bill, opinion of only one registered medical practitioner would be required, instead of two as per the current law, for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation.
- For termination of pregnancy of 20 to 24 weeks of gestation, opinion of two registered medical practitioner is required.
- The main aim of the Bill is to increase the gestation limit for “special category” of women which include rape victims, minors, differently-able women, etc.
- Information of any women whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed, except to a person authorized by any law in force.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday annexed with it a Statement of Objects and Reasons, which states,
“With the passage of time and advancement of medical technology for safe abortion, there is a scope for increasing upper gestational limit for terminating pregnancies especially for vulnerable women and for pregnancies with substantial foetal anomalies detected late in pregnancy. Further, there is also a need for increasing access of women to legal and safe abortion service in order to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity caused by unsafe abortion and its complications. Considering the need and demand for increased gestational limit under certain specified conditions and to ensure safety and well-being of women, it is proposed to amend the said Act. Besides this, several Writ Petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court and various High Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on the grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women.”
As per the new amendments of Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, opinion of only one registered medical practitioner will be needed for medical termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation. In case of pregnancy of 20 to 24 weeks of gestation, for medical termination of pregnancy, opinion of two registered medical practitioner will be required. The medical practitioner should be of the opinion that, continuation of pregnancy will lead to injury to the women either physically or mentally, or if the child is born out of the pregnancy, there is substantial risk that he/she may suffer from serious mental or physical abnormality.
The Bill also provides that, any information of a woman, whose pregnancy has been terminated medically, shall not be revealed. The information may be revealed to a person, who is authorized by any law in force to get such information. If any person is found to be acting in contravention to the said provisions, he/she will be held liable and will be punished with imprisonment which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Bill No. 55 of 2020.