The statement said the “upper gestation limit” for medical termination of pregnancy will not apply in cases of “substantial foetal abnormalities” diagnosed by the medical board. (Photo: Rep[resentational/Pixabay)
If the pregnancy has to be terminated in 20 weeks, the opinion of one doctor is required.
New Delhi: In a significant move, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved extending the upper limit for permitting abortions from the present 20 weeks to 24 weeks for “special categories of women”, that would include rape survivors, incest victims, differently-abled and minors.
The Cabinet gave its nod to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2020, to amend Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971, and it would be introduced in Parliament’s Budget Session that will start on January 31, official sources said.
Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, I&B minister Prakash Javadekar said the upper limit for allowing abortions has been extended from the present 20 weeks to 24 weeks. He also said this will ensure safe termination of pregnancies and give women reproductive rights over their bodies.
The extension will help victims of rape, girls with disabilities as well as minors, who may not realise they are pregnant until much later, he said.
An official statement later said one of the salient features of the proposed amendments is “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 would include “vulnerable women including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, minors), etc”.
If the pregnancy has to be terminated in 20 weeks, the opinion of one doctor is required. But beyond that, the opinion of two doctors would be needed and one of them has to be a government physician, Mr Javadekar said.
The name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy is terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law in force, the statement said.
“In a progressive reform and giving reproductive rights to women, the limit of 20 weeks of medical termination of pregnancy has been increased to 24 weeks. This is important because in first five months there are cases where the girl concerned doesn’t realise and has to go to court. This was discussed with various stakeholders,” Mr Javadekar said. “This will reduce maternal mortality,” he added.
The statement said the “upper gestation limit” for medical termination of pregnancy will not apply in cases of “substantial foetal abnormalities” diagnosed by the medical board.