Topics Covered: Issues related to women.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020
What to study?
For Prelims: Key changes made.
For Mains: Significance and the need for these changes.
Context: The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which seeks to amend the MTP Act, 1971, was passed in Lok Sabha recently.
- It seeks to extend the upper limit for permitting abortions from 20 weeks to 24 under special circumstances.
- The “special categories of women” include rape survivors, victims of incest, the differently abled and minors.
- The Bill proposes requirement of opinion of one registered medical practitioner (RMP) for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation.
- It also provides for the requirement of opinion of two RMPs for termination of pregnancy of 20 to 24 weeks.
- Constitution of a Medical Board: 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.
- Under the Bill, if any pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of any device or method used by a woman or her partner to limit the number of children, such an unwanted pregnancy may constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman.
Need for overhaul:
- The present abortion law, which is about five decades old, permits abortion up to a maximum foetal gestation period of 20 weeks.
- In recent years, there have been strong demands to raise the foetal gestation period for abortion beyond 20 weeks.
- The move to amend the MTP Act, 1971 is a progressive step towards empowerment of women. It will provide greater reproductive rights to women as abortion is considered an important aspect of the reproductive health of women. Deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions are largely preventable provided services are performed legally by trained practitioners.
Abortion laws across the world:
Abortion laws vary across the world. It is learnt that around 60 countries prescribe gestational limits.
- 52 % including France, the UK, Austria, Ethiopia, Italy, Spain, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and even Nepal, allow for termination beyond 20 weeks on the diagnosis of foetal abnormalities.
- Some countries go beyond even these limits with laws in 23 countries-Canada, Germany, Vietnam, Denmark, Ghana, and Zambia-allowing for abortion at any time during the pregnancy on the request of the mother.
- Provisions in the new bill vs 1971 act.
- Time limit for abortion in India vs other countries.
- Contraceptive-failure clause.
- Constitution and composition of Medical Board.
Discuss how Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 strives to provide reproductive rights to women in India.
Sources: the Hindu.