The Health Ministry has recommended recognising ‘Failure of contraceptive and unplanned pregnancy as lawful reasons for abortion for all women, married or not’.
The current law (The Medical Termination Pregnancy Act) only recognises these above reasons as valid for abortion among married women, and does not make any mention of single women.
The Health Ministry also wants to increase the timeframe in which abortion is allowed — from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. Currently the MTP Act, which was put in place in 1971, allows abortion only until 20 weeks of pregnancy, and only under certain terms and conditions. Many gynaecologists have said that the 20-week timeframe is too narrow because some genetic abnormalities in the foetus may manifest only after this time period.
The Health Ministry has also recommended allowing homeopaths, nurses and midwives to conduct non-invasive abortions after receiving special training.
If the amendments to the bill are passed, a huge step towards dismantling the stigma against abortion will have been taken. Surabhi Srivastava, founder of ethical storytelling platform Voice Your Abortion tells SheThePeople.TV that abortion rights haven’t been on the feminist agenda in India, and that it is important to provide women with a safe platform where they can share their stories.
The Times of India reported that the Cabinet may take up the Health Ministry’s proposal shortly after the current Parliament session ends.
Hopefully, the move will empower more women to talk freely about their experiences.
Also Read: Now, a safe space to share abortion ordeals