- Health ministry has recommended recognising “failure of contraceptive” and “unplanned pregnancy” as lawful reasons for abortion among all women, married or otherwise
- At present, the law recognises these two reasons for abortion only in case of “married” women
- The proposal is likely to be taken up by the Cabinet soon after the ongoing Parliament session ends
NEW DELHI: In a move that will make it easier for single women to safely and legally terminate unwanted pregnancies, the health ministry has recommended recognising “failure of contraceptive” and “unplanned pregnancy” as lawful reasons for abortionamong all women, married or otherwise. At present, the law recognises these two reasons for abortion only in case of “married” women. The relief is part of a series of recommendations made by the health ministry for amendment of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.
The proposal is likely to be taken up by the Cabinet soon after the ongoing Parliament session ends, sources said. The existing MTP Act requires a doctor to indicate a reason for abortion. This could be to save the life of the woman, in case of rape or incest, or due to the physical or mental health of the woman. Recognising the growing reality of sexually active single or unmarried women, the government’s recommendations aim to widen the purview of legal abortion. Experts say the move is progressive and will give women safe and legal abortion options.
Other amendments to the law dating back to 1971 would allow abortion any time during pregnancy for “selective” foetal abnormality, which cannot be detected during the 20-week gestation period. Currently, the law allows medical abortion only till 20 weeks of pregnancy.
It will also help address the social taboo attached to sexual activity of single or unmarried women and instead allow them a right over their body.
The ministry has also recommended allowing homoeopaths, nurses and midwives to conduct non-invasive abortions with training. The proposed amendments also include extending the gestation period from 20 weeks to 24 weeks for “special categories”, which is also likely to include single women with unwanted pregnancy, apart from disabled and other vulnerable women. “Once the amendments bill is passed by Parliament, the ministry will elaborate on implementation of the law by notifying rules. That will bring more clarity,” an official said.
“The amendments will increase women’s access to safe abortion and we are hoping the government will attempt to pass the bill in Parliament at the earliest,” said Vinoj Manning, executive director of
IPAS India, a non-profit organisation working to increase women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, and to reduce maternal mortality.
Source: The Times of India