In a bid to ensure dignity, confidentiality, autonomy and justice for women, the Indian cabinet gave its nod for extending the upper limit for abortions to 24 weeks from the present 20 weeks.a
Giving the nod to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the government feels that this would ensure women reproductive rights over their bodies. The bill is to be introduced in the coming session and if passed, it would be replacing a 50 year old law and would place India in line with Greece, Taiwan and Finland in setting a 24 week condition for abortion.
The government has said that the Bill was formulated for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on eugenic, therapeutic and humanitarian grounds.
The Bill comes up in the wake of several petitions filed in Courts seeking permission for abortions beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of pregnancies due to sexual violence or foetal abnormalities.
In the present law, abortion after 20 weeks is not allowed unless the mother’s life is in danger. Earlier in September, the Government had told the Supreme Court that the 20 week period could not be changed. However, women activists and others had demanded that the present law was archaic and ignored medical advances. They had argued that the limitation forced many women and girls to go for unsafe or illegal abortions.