Medical Termination of Pregnancy

  • Category
    Social Issues
  • Published
    25th Mar, 2020

The Lok Sabha has passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill, to ensure safety and well-being of women.

Context

The Lok Sabha has passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill, to ensure safety and well-being of women.

About

  • The Bill amends the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 which provides for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners.  
  • Definition:The Bill adds the definition of termination of pregnancy to mean a procedure undertaken to terminate a pregnancy by using medical or surgical methods. 
  • Termination of Pregnancy: Under the Act, a pregnancy may be terminated within 12 weeks, if a registered medical practitioner is of the opinion that:
    • continuation of the pregnancy may risk the life of the mother, or cause grave injury to her health
    • there is a substantial risk that the child, if born, would suffer physical or mental abnormalities.
  • For termination of a pregnancy between 12 to 20 weeks, two medical practitioners are required to give their opinion.

    Abortion and Indian Law:

    • The Indian Penal code, drafted in the 19th century, which is still in force, considers abortion a crime.
    • This law states that the woman and the person helping, can be imprisoned up to seven years.
    • The MTP Act carved out an exception to the provisions.

    • The Bill amends this provision to state that a pregnancy may be terminated within 20 weeks, with the opinion of a registered medical practitioner.  
    • Approval of two registered medical practitioners will be required for termination of pregnancies between 20 to 24 weeks.  
    • The termination of pregnancies up to 24 weeks will only apply to specific categories of women, as may be prescribed by the central government.  
    • Further, the central government will notify the norms for the medical practitioner whose opinion is required for termination of the pregnancy. 

     

    Constitution of a Medical Board: 

    • The Bill states that the upper limit of termination of pregnancy will not apply in cases where such termination is necessary due to the diagnosis of substantial foetal abnormalities.  
    • These abnormalities will be diagnosed by a Medical Board.  Under the Bill, every state government is required to constitute a Medical Board.  
    • These Medical Boards will consist of the following members: (i) a gynaecologist, (ii) a paediatrician, (iii) a radiologist or sonologist, and (iv) any other number of members, as may be notified by the state government.  

     

    Significance of the Bill:  

    • The moveis in the interest of women’s rights as it will help in expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds.  
    • The bill is a great recognition of women’s reproductive rights as these are essential for women’s equality as they ensure women’s rights of bodily autonomy.

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