The Union Cabinet of India, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which will raise the upper limit for abortion to 24 weeks from 20.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar said that this was passed as “here was the demand from section of women, doctors and court has also requested the same”. This would be an amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. An amendment to this bill has been in the works since 2014 and has only come to the floor after extensive research and consultation with stakeholders and other ministries.
Besides raising the upper limit on gestational age allowed for abortion, the amendments other main features include requiring two medical providers opinions for abortions from 20-24 weeks, and an anonymity clause that names and other personal information of women who have had abortions shall not be revealed except for specific authorized personnel.
While the amendment does say that two medical providers opinions would be needed from 20-24 weeks, it also asserts that the upper gestation limit will not apply in cases where there are substantial fetal abnormalities, and that survivors of rape, victims of incest, and other vulnerable women would not have to consult two providers, only one, before having an abortion up to 24 weeks into the gestational period.
The Prime Minister’s website cites this amendment as “a step towards safety and well-being of the women… The proposed increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy”.
Sources: Business World India 1/29/20; pmindia.gov.in 1/29/20