Union Minister Prakash Javadekar briefing media on Cabinert decisions in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo/ANI
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar briefing media on Cabinert decisions in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo/ANI

Cabinet approves Bill to raise abortion upper limit to 24 weeks for vulnerable women

ANI | Updated: Jan 29, 2020 18:10 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 29 (ANI): The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a Bill that provides for raising the upper limit for legal termination of pregnancy from 20 to 24 weeks and expands the access of women to safe and legal abortion services on "therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds."
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will be introduced during the Budget Session of Parliament.
Briefing the media after a meeting of Union Cabinet here, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Bill has been brought after extensive consultations and recommendations of standing committee have been incorporated.
"The limit for abortion has been increased from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. There was a demand from a section of women, doctors and court have also requested the same," he said.
The Bill seeks to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
It provides for 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 includes survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women like differently-abled women and minors.
"The proposed increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate the pregnancy," an official release said.
The upper gestation limit will not apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by the medical board. The composition, functions and other details of Medical Board to be prescribed subsequently in the rules under the Act.
The name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force.
The bill provides for the requirement of the opinion of one provider for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation and requirement of the opinion of two providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
"Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds," the release said.
The proposed amendments include the substitution of certain sub-sections and insertion of certain new clauses to increase upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions.
The amendments also seek to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care under strict conditions without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.
"It is a step towards safety and well-being of the women and many women will be benefitted by this," the release said.
It said several petitions were received by the courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women.
The release said that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare proposed amendments after extensive consultation with various stakeholders and several ministries to increase access of women to safe abortion services and taking into account the advances in medical technology. (ANI)