- The bill seeks to extend the period of authorized termination of pregnancy from the current 12 weeks to 20 weeks.
- In addition, the bill also intends to replace the terms “married women or her husband” by “wife and her partner”.
- It has been presented and nullified three times in Parliament – in 2014, 2017 and 2018.
One of the important bills that will be introduced in the monsoon session of the Indian Parliament from today is the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
It has been introduced and nullified three times in Parliament – in 2014, 2017 and 2018. “The 2020 Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill aims to expand women’s access to health services. safe and legal abortions for therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social reasons. “Wrote the Press Information Office.
The bill seeks to amend the 1971 Act on Medical Termination of Pregnancy. The bill seeks to add the definition of termination of pregnancy to refer to a procedure undertaken to terminate a pregnancy using medical or surgical methods.
“India will now be among the nations with very progressive laws that allow legal abortions for a wide range of therapeutic, humanitarian and social reasons. The new MTP (amendment) bill, 2020, is an important step that will further empower women, especially those who are vulnerable and victims of rape ”,
Union Cabinet Minister Smriti Irani wrote on her blog.
It aims to extend the period of authorized termination of pregnancy from currently 12 weeks to 20 weeks. And, for cases of termination of pregnancy between 20 and 24 weeks, the approval of a licensed physician would be required.
In January of this year, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar
mentionned the extension to 24 weeks will also help rape victims, girls with disabilities and minors, who may not realize they are pregnant until later.
Currently, a pregnancy can be terminated within 12 weeks if the licensed physician believes that:
- Continuing the pregnancy can endanger the mother’s life or seriously damage her health.
- Or if there is a significant risk that the child, if born, will suffer from physical or mental abnormalities.
In addition, the current bill also intends to change the terms “married woman or her husband” to “wife and her partner”. The bill further seeks to establish a medical commission under each state government.
Concerns about the current Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 and current issues
according to reports, more than ten women die every day from “unsafe abortions”. And the current law of 1971 on the medical termination of pregnancy makes the situation even worse.
Experts say the first and foremost problem with the law is a medical professional seeking an abortion rather than the woman herself. In many countries, including France, Iceland, South Africa, Uruguay, women can have abortions.
Second, fetal abnormalities
can now turn out even after 20 weeks. However, current law does not allow abortion after 20 weeks.
So even if the doctor detects abnormalities – which can endanger a mother’s life – they are not allowed to have an abortion because of the law.
For example, in 2008, the Bombay High Court rejected a request for an abortion of a fetus with a heart defect in its 22nd week in the Haresh and Niketa Mehta case.
A lack of complete autonomy Although progressive, the new bill also fails to address several issues.
“The amended law does not contain any substantial new provisions to prevent unsafe abortions. The right to a safe abortion (at least up to 12 weeks, when it is safer) would have made the state responsible for providing safe abortion services ”,
according to Prachinkumar Ghodajkar, an entry assistance profession in social medicine and community health, JNU.
Moreover, according to Tusharika Mattoo, a practicing lawyer in New Delhi, the bodily autonomy of women is totally absent from the new MTP bill.
“We have taken several steps back and eroded what has been painstakingly achieved in terms of jurisprudence. The bill continues to focus on eugenics rather than women’s health, and the issue of a woman’s well-being, even when addressed, appears to be secondary, ”said Tusharika Mattoo, lawyer practicing in Delhi and member of Women in Criminal. Law Association
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