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Not just nine months

  • Published
    18th Oct, 2023

Context:

A woman’s assessment of her inability to continue her pregnancy has been replaced by court’s opinion of her circumstances while hearing for the abortion of a feotus in 26 weeks, considering child’s birth rights.

Limited Reach of 2021 Amendment

  • Amendment Scope: India extended legal abortion limit to 24 weeks for specific cases, excluding severe fetal abnormalities.
  • Continued Judicial Intervention: Women still approach courts for breach of new gestational limits or provider denial.
  • Prevalence of Post-20 Week Cases: Pre-2021, 74% of MTP cases filed post-20 weeks, mostly for fetal abnormalities or rape.

Challenges in Legal and Medical Processes

  • Burdensome Procedures: Women face multiple medical exams, psychiatric evaluations, and graphic courtroom descriptions for abortion approval.
  • RMPs' Reluctance: Fear of legal consequences deters registered medical practitioners from providing timely abortion care.
  • Inadequate Legal Safeguards: Indian law, while relatively liberal, doesn't align with international human rights standards for abortion access.

Inequities in Abortion Decision-Making

  • Unequal Considerations: Courts and the State make distinctions between reasons for abortion, impacting women's reproductive autonomy.
  • Debated Judgments: Recent cases like X highlight the struggle for women's rights in pregnancy termination decisions.
  • Call for Comprehensive Reform: WHO advocates for decriminalizing abortion and removing gestational limits for equal and safe access.
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