The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2020 – MTP Act 1971
- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in March 2020. The bill will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha during the current budget session.
- In this bill, several amendments have been proposed, including the formation of a medical board in each state and union territory.
- In cases of abnormal fetuses, the fetus beyond 24 weeks will be decided by the board.
- Each board shall consist of a gynecologist, a radiologist or sonologist, a pediatrician, and other members nominated by the State / UT Government.
According to the latest study, it is ‘impractical’ to constitute such a board, as 82% of the posts of concerned physicians in the country are vacant.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971
- Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, a woman is empowered to terminate pregnancy by 20 weeks.
- If an unwanted pregnancy had progressed beyond 20 weeks, the women had to make rounds of the medical board and court to terminate their pregnancy, which is a complicated process.
Section 3 (2) of MTP Act 1971
- According to Section 3 (2) of the MTP Act, 1971, a pregnancy can be terminated by a registered medical practitioner-
- Where the time of pregnancy does not exceed 12 weeks.
- Where the time of pregnancy is more than 12 weeks, but not more than twenty weeks.
- In this case, abortion can only happen if the continuation of the pregnancy, in the opinion of at least two registered medical practitioners, does indicate a risk to the life of the pregnant woman (physical or mental health), or it is proved that if a child is born, it may have to undergo serious disease due to some physical or mental abnormalities.
Provisions of proposed bill:
- The termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks after conception will require the opinion of a registered medical practitioner (two or more).
- The termination of a pregnancy of 20 to 24 weeks would require the opinion of two registered medical practitioners.
- The reason for extending the duration of pregnancy termination to 24 weeks is to provide protection to the rape victims, victims of maltreatment (human sexual activity between family members or close relatives), vulnerable women and other minor girls.
- Also, for unmarried women, this bill gives the right to decide for them in the event of contraceptive-failure. Earlier, “only married woman or her husband” was given the right to pregnancy termination, but the Bill proposes the same for “any woman or her partner”.
Abortion status in India:
- Lancet research shows that only 22% of abortions in India are done through public or private health facilities.
- According to data from UNICEF-India and World Bank, India counts among the highest number of maternal deaths worldwide. India has an average of 45,000 deaths every year and 1 maternal death in 12 minutes.
Source – The Hindu