Medical Termination Of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2020 Passed In Parliament

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The Medical Termination Of Pregnancy Bill 2020 was passed in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. The Amendment on the 1971 Act will now raise the upper limit on abortions to over 24 weeks since conception in special cases, as opposed to the original 12-20 weeks. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha last year in March. A year later, it has been passed in the upper house of Parliament and will soon become an Act.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, giving a nod to the Amendment said in Parliament that the procedure is internationally considered “progressive.” He added, “We have done extensive consultations on this bill, including with all concerned stakeholders, NGOs, and also FOGSI (Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India).”

He however mentioned, “This amendment is not for routine abortions, these are for special circumstances.” The circumstances include persons with pregnancies from rape or incest, and also high-risk pregnancies pertaining to foetal abnormalities.

The opposition raised questions on the extent and effectiveness of the amendment in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020. Communist Party of India’s Binoy Viswam said, “This bill, in my opinion, needs to be improved. It should be sent to select committee to make it more powerful and more meaningful. Women’s right to abstain from procreation should be upheld. This bill doesn’t uphold that right… Decision making is a women’s right not that of a medical board. The final word should be with the woman and not the board.”

What is the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020?

The Medical Termination Of Pregnancy Bill 2020 raises the time frame of allowing abortions for certain categories of pregnant women to over 24 weeks, in case of substantial foetal abnormalities and with consultation from the Medical Board. The bill will also be extended to “vulnerable women including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, Minors).”

As per government sources, the names and identities of women availing abortions will not be disclosed to anyone except legally authorised persons. The amendment comes in a bid to expand “access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian social grounds.”

Both the original Act and Amendment will allow for a single-doctor consultation in emergency abortion cases that concern the pregnant woman’s life.

Here are comparisons in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 and Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971:

Duration  1971 Act 2020 Bill
Till 12 weeks One doctor consultation One doctor consultation
12-20 weeks Two-doctor consultation  One doctor consultation
20-24 weeks No provision Two doctor consultation (in some cases)
Over 24 weeks No provision Medical board consultation (in foetal abnormality cases)

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