MTP Act: More needs to be done to make the Amendments meaningful for women
The Parliament’s approval of the Medical Termination Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, is an outcome of several years of multi stakeholder consultations and comes after multiple petitions in the Supreme Court and High Courts of India. The changes to the law come at a time when 10 women die every day as a result of unsafe abortion.
Mar 20, 2020
India legalized abortion in 1971 with the passage of the MTP Act, a law considered much ahead of its time. However, it is obsolete now given the societal changes and advancements in preconception diagnostics, fetal screening and abortion technologies. The current amendments address some of these – they now allow unmarried women to seek safe abortion services on grounds of contraceptive failure and re-emphasize maintaining confidentiality for all women undergoing termination of pregnancy, thereby making it easier for single women to access these services.
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:
Opinion: India's government must prioritize women's needs — including SRHR
By Vinoj Manning
24 July 2019
The 2019 general elections in India saw a record turnout of women — equal to the percentage of male voters — and indicating that women expect the majority government of the day to prioritize and address their needs.
One of their primary expectations is improved access to women’s sexual reproductive health and rights services.
In Madhya Pradesh, an innovative solution that shows the way to end unsafe abortions
Madhya Pradesh, according to a 2015 Guttmacher Institute report, is among six states where the maternal mortality rate is higher than that of India — 221 compared to 167 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Written by Shai Venkatraman
Published: May 22, 2019
Clad in a hospital gown, Rukhsan Banu waits outside the MTP OT (Medical Termination of Pregnancy Operation Theatre) at the Elgin Rani Durgavati Hospital in Jabalpur. The 24-year-old, just over two months pregnant, does not want to keep the baby. “My husband and I have two children and we don’t want any more”.
Rukhsan and her sister-in-law travelled for over three hours from their home in Seoni village to come here for the procedure. The operation theatre, which opened in September 2017, is the first of its kind at a government hospital in India.
How stigma and restricted access stop Indian women from seeking safe abortions
When women who approach doctors are denied abortion, they are forced to break the law and opt for unsafe abortion. The result? Unsafe abortions is the third leading cause of maternal mortality in India.
Haripriya Suresh and Shiba Kurian
Friday, November 30, 2018
For her first termination of pregnancy, Aishwarya* had gone to a gynaecologist, but was flat out denied by the doctor, who said she would not perform the abortion. The doctor then referred her to a colleague, who turned out to be an IVF specialist. The second doctor, too, denied her the abortion, and instead asked her to carry the pregnancy to term and have a baby. Aishwarya was seven weeks pregnant at the time, but the IVF specialist refused to give her a medical kit, and stated that she was too far along, and asked her to come in for a prohibitively expensive surgery to abort.
“I walked out of the hospital, went to my neighbourhood pharmacy, asked for the kit, and I self-medicated,” Aishwarya says.
Opinion | Looking beyond the legality of abortion
Even five decades after legalization, abortions in India lack basic safety standards
Last Published: Mon, Oct 01 2018
Despite abortion being legal in India for almost five decades, unsafe abortion continues to be the third largest cause of maternal mortality and accounts for 8% of all maternal deaths in India. Ten women die every day, and thousands more face serious and permanent injuries annually due to unsafe abortion-related causes. Most deaths caused by unsafe abortion are, however, preventable. With the advent of newer and simpler technologies, induced abortion is now a very safe and simple medical procedure, which can save the lives of millions of women.
‘Reduce Stigma To Make Women Comfortable Accessing Safe Abortions’
August 7, 2018
New Delhi: Abortion was legalised in India almost half a century ago, yet unsafe abortions – performed in unhygienic conditions by untrained providers – are the third largest cause of maternal death. Nearly 78% of the more than 15 million abortions conducted annually in India are outside of health facilities, giving rise to safety concerns. There is only one licensed provider for 224,000 women in rural areas.
India allows medical termination of a pregnancy of up to 20 weeks’ gestation to be conducted by a registered medical practitioner. There have been attempts to amend the act to expand the provider base to include nurses and non-allopathic medicine practitioners, and extend the deadline to 24 weeks from the current 20.
Unsafe abortion claims 13 lives daily
Updated: July 26th, 2018
Everyday 13 women die in India due to unsafe abortion related causes, including lack of access to trained abortion providers, lack of knowledge about the legality of abortion and availability of safe services, compounded by the social stigma and abortion.
It was stated during a Media Sensitization Workshop organised by Global Health Strategies here on ‘Ensuring reproductive justice in India : How do we make safe abortion services more accessible?’
Allow non-allopathists to perform abortions
Saturday, 02 June 2018
Vinoj Manning | in Oped
Despite abortion being legal in India for almost five decades, every day 10 women die and thousands more face serious and permanent injuries due to unsafe abortions. This is unacceptable. Unsafe abortion is the third largest cause of maternal mortality and accounts for eight per cent of all maternal deaths in India. A recent study conducted jointly by International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Population Council, New Delhi, and Guttmacher Institute, New York, estimates that only 22 per cent of the 1.5 crore abortions that occur in India every year take place at a private or public-sector facility and are performed by trained personnel.
The shortage of trained providers and concomitant lack of facilities offering safe abortion services are two of the key contributory causes of unsafe abortions. Unfortunately, the one policy action that could address this acute public health crisis is yet to be taken.