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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 27 June, 2022

  • 5 Min Read

INDIA’S LAWS ON ABORTION

INDIA’S LAWS ON ABORTION

In a significant step for women’s rights in the USA, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe vs Wade judgment of 1973 which gave women in America the right to have an abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb or before 24-28 weeks. It expands the access to safe and legal abortion services for pregnant women.

ABORTION IN INDIA

  • In 1960 when the high number of induced abortions took place and the population of the country rose rapidly. The union government set up Shantilal shah’s committee to frame laws on abortion.
  • In order to reduce maternal mortality owing to unsafe abortion and even for controlling the population the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was brought into force in 1971 which gave the legal right to abortion.
  • The MTP Act said that abortion can be permitted up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. It also framed that the procedure can be carried out only by a registered medical practitioner.
  • This law is an exception to the Indian penal code provision of 312 and 313 , the 312 of IPC say that any person who voluntarily causes a woman with a child to miscarry is liable for punishment attracting a jail term of up to three years or a fine unless it was done in good faith where the purpose was to save the life of pregnant women.
  • In the year 1994, the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act was enacted to prevent the misuse of the MTP Act so that abortions aren't carried out at the fancies of a woman or a couple.
  • The MPT act was amended twice in the year 2003 and in the year 2021 which change the time limit for abortion to be carried on.

MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY ACT 2021

  1. Under this act, the medical termination of pregnancy is permitted if it is backed by medical opinion and is being sought for at least the following reason:
  • if the continuation of the pregnancy would involve a risk of life to pregnant women
  • if it results in grave injury to the women’s physical or mental health
  • if a child is born then he/she can suffer from a serious physical or mental abnormality
  1. There is a requirement of the opinion of one registered medical practitioner for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation.
  2. The Act introduced the requirement of the opinion of two registered medical practitioners for termination of pregnancy at 20-24 weeks of gestation under the condition that the woman is either survivor of sexual assault or rape or if she is a minor if her marital status has changed during the ongoing pregnancy.
  3. It also states that the name and other details of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed, except to a person authorized in any law that is currently in force.
  4. If the pregnancy has to be terminated beyond the 24 weeks of the gestational period then it can be only done by a four-member medical board set up in each state under this act.
  5. Even unmarried women can also have the access to abortion .

Illegal Abortions

  • Abortion of under 4 to 5 months pregnancy: The punishment for getting an illegal abortion is jail time for 3 years/or a fine.
  • Abortion without consent - If anyone else forces the pregnant woman to have an abortion then the punishment is the jail for up to 10 years and a fine.
  • Abortion resulting in death - If the patient dies because of an abortion carried out by an unskilled person, the doctor who conducted the operation can be punished with jail time of up to 10 years and a fine.

Issues with the Current Abortion Laws

  • According to a 2015 study in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, 10 to 13% of maternal deaths in India are due to unsafe abortions which is the third leading cause of maternal death in our country.
  • Lack of access to safe abortion clinics, particularly public hospitals, and stigma and attitudes toward women, especially young, unmarried women seeking an abortion, have not been addressed in this law.
  • The law does not address non-medical concerns over the economic costs of raising a child, effects on career decisions, or any other personal considerations.
  • Just 20% of abortions occur in public sector facilities and 52% in private, according to the National Family Health Survey 2015- 2016 whereas 53% of abortions were performed by enrolled medical specialists and the rest were done by midwives and auxiliary nursing midwives.

Source: The Hindu


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