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

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that the union cabinet has given its assent to amend the 1971 increasing the upper limit for legal abortions from 20 weeks to 24 weeks, the minister was quoted saying “In a progressive reform and giving reproductive rights to women the limit of 20 weeks of medical termination of pregnancy has been increased to 24 weeks. This is important because in the first 5 months there are cases where the girl concerned doesn’t realize and has to go to court. This was discussed with various stakeholders. This will reduce maternal mortality”

This particular amendment came after landmark judgments like in the case of Mrs X and Ors vs Union of India 2017 wherein due to the mother having bilateral renal agenesis hydramnios was given permission to have abortion near 24th  week of her pregnancy; A challenging the restrictions of abortions pending in the supreme court on which the court had issued a notice in July 2019 arguing the unreasonableness and arbitrariness of the 20 week limit of abortion as stated in section 3 of the MTP Act according to which a pregnancy may be terminated by a registered medical practitioner,-

(a) where the length of the pregnancy does not exceed twelve weeks if such medical practitioner is, or

 (b) where the length of the pregnancy exceeds twelve weeks but does not exceed twenty weeks if not less than two registered medical practitioners are. Of opinion, formed in good faith, that,-

(i) the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury physical or mental health; or

(ii) there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped

The medical termination of pregnancy amendment  bill 2020 proposes to expand the access of women to have safe legal abortion on therapeutic eugenic humanitarian grounds especially  to certain vulnerable women including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled, minors)


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