Abortion bill 2020 is good, but not good enough
Feb 16, 2020
Sanchita Sharma, Hindustantimes
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment Bill, 2020, has got several things right. Raising the upper limit of legal abortions from 20 weeks to 24 weeks for “special categories of women”, including rape and incest survivors, other vulnerable women, and children; and completely removing the upper gestation limit for abortion in the cases of substantial foetal abnormalities will help many more seek safe and legal abortion services.
Other positive inclusions are allowing all women, and not just married ones, to legally seek abortions, and striking out the need for the opinion of a second registered practitioner for aborting pregnancies up to 20 weeks. The draft proposes that the opinion of two practitioners will now be needed only for abortions in the 20-24 weeks period.
FEATURE: INDIA Prime Minister’s Cabinet tables proposal for abortion law reform
14 February 2020
International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
On 29 January 2020, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Modi published the text of a bill to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The bill is to be introduced in the ensuing session of the Union Parliament, where it will be debated. A summary of the current law, the amendments it proposes, and responses to the bill by leading NGOs working for abortion rights in India are reported below. Text in quotes is taken direct from the source.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971
The 1971 Act says that a pregnancy may be terminated up to 20 weeks of pregnancy with the approval of one registered medical practitioner up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, or the approval of “no less than two registered medical practitioners” from 12 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Approval must be given “in good faith” that:
The proposed liberalisation of abortion rules will ensure dignity, autonomy and justice for women
Published: 11th Feb 2020
The liberalisation of abortion rules in tune with the medical advancements and reproductive rights of women has been long overdue. The 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, which imposes a 20-week limit beyond which abortion is prohibited, is regressive and out of sync with the 21st century realities. This has, in fact, proved tragic in many cases. A brutally raped minor was forced to give birth to her rapist’s child after a high court denied her request for abortion because by the time her petition was heard her pregnancy had crossed the 20-week limit prescribed by the law. There can be no greater injustice than this. The situation will, hopefully, change for the better now with the Union Cabinet giving nod for amendments to the Act seeking to raise the permission limit from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. This is a progressive move as it strengthens access to comprehensive abortion care without compromising on service and quality of safe abortion.
Seeking a more progressive abortion law
February 10, 2020
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill doesn’t do enough to secure women’s choices and interests
Recent reports have shown that more than 10 women die everyday due to unsafe abortions in India, and backward abortion laws only contribute to women seeking illegal and unsafe options. The Cabinet has recently approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (MTP Bill, 2020) which will soon be tabled in Parliament. It seeks to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP Act) and follows the MTP Bills of 2014, 2017 and 2018, all of which previously lapsed in Parliament.
Why Proposed Amendment to Abortion Law is Small But Significant Victory for Women's Reproductive Rights
Although the law and the proposed amendment sound great on paper, their implementation remain tough given that abortion is still widely stigmatised in India, and there is very little awareness about the laws.
February 1, 2020
Earlier this week, the central government endorsed an amendment in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971), raising the upper limit of pregnancy termination from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. The bill is slated to be tabled for amendment during the current session of Parliament that began on January 31.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the amendment would reduce maternity-related deaths and 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 the first five months, there are cases where the woman concerned doesn't realise and has to go to court."
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Posted on 30 January, 2020
by Suchitra Dalvie, Asia Safe Abortion Partnership
Many of us greeted the news with cautious optimism when we heard that yesterday the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister had approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The Bill will be introduced in the ensuing session of the Parliament. But on reading the details of the amendments proposed one is forced to wonder if this is just fussing around over minor details while continuing to ignore the larger issues of women’s autonomy and agency?
For these amendments to truly bring about wide ranging change we must remember one crucial thing about true change—it happens only with a shift in power. Until the archaic patriarchal notions of the need to criminalize various sexual and reproductive aspects of our lives (such as Section 377 in the Indian Penal Code) are done away with, any legislation like the MTP Act which is mainly meant to protect the doctors and not the women involved, is not likely to result in genuine change.
Explained: Why it is important to amend Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971?
By Simran Kashyap
Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Moving to ease abortion laws in the country, the Union Cabinet is likely to approve changes in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971. The draft has been circulated by the ministry of health and family welfare.
According to the 2014 draft bill, the upper limit for termination of a pregnancy will be extended from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. This will help in decreasing maternal morbidity and mortality and may also help in preventing wastage of resources invested in a pregnancy and preserving the woman's health, strength, and above all, life.
Cabinet okays bill to raise upper limit for abortions to 24 weeks
29 Jan 2020
Neetu Chandra Sharma
The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that proposes to permit the termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks from the existing 20 weeks. The bill will be introduced in the ensuing budget session of Parliament.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 aims to expand access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds. The proposed amendments include substitution of certain sub-sections and insertion of certain new clauses under some sections in the existing Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, with a view to increase the upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions and to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.
Comprehensive Abortion Care a Far Cry
As per the national statistics, only 22 percent abortions are carried out in health facilities while 73 percent are medication-based.
Published: 22nd December 2019
By KG Suresh
At a quiz conducted recently for state-level health communicators in Bihar, it was found that some were not aware that abortions were legal in India while some others thought a woman required the consent of her husband or father for aborting her foetus. In fact, some of them were not even aware of the difference between emergency contraception and abortion drugs. This was significant given the fact that Bihar with 1.25 million abortions annually accounted for a sizeable chunk of the 15.6 million abortions annually estimated in the country by Lancet, an international health journal. Neighbouring Uttar Pradesh reported 3.15 million abortions.
As per the national statistics, only 22 per cent abortions are carried out in health facilities while 73 per cent are medication-based. The national average of unsafe abortions stood at 5 per cent, meaning thereby that about 10 women lose their lives daily because of unsafe abortions.
Woman's Right to Abort Pregnancy Not an Absolute Right, Centre Tells Supreme Court
The government said unsafe abortions contribute to 8 per cent of maternal mortality in India and continue to be the third largest cause of maternal mortality.
Updated:December 16, 2019
New Delhi: The central government has submitted in the Supreme Court that a woman's right to abort is not an absolute right.
Seeking dismissal of a PIL that sought complete autonomy for a woman to determine whether or not to continue with her pregnancy, the ministry of health and family welfare referred to the statement of object and reasons of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.