SC Suggests Permanent Mechanism for Abortions After 20-Weeks

self-abortion, woman backing abortion fired

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea to set up a permanent mechanism of the termination of pregnancies beyond 20 weeks. This will be for cases involving rape survivors and abnormal fetuses.

The court issued a notice to the Centre asking its response for a permanent mechanism which will make aborting unviable pregnancies much easier. A PIL alleging that crucial time is lost in filing petitions and in the court proceedings was filed.

The PIL asked that women be allowed to undergo an abortion without seeking approval from the court. The petitioner is Anusha Ravindra who approached the court via her advocate Manju Jetley.

The bench said that it cannot order the government to amend the law. However, it did say it would look at setting up the permanent mechanism.

The Medical Termination Pregnancy Act, which was put in place in 1971, allows abortion only until 20 weeks of pregnancy, and only under certain terms and conditions. Conditions include risk to a pregnant woman’s mental or physical health, and risk of the child suffering from serious handicaps.

Additionally, gynaecologists agree that the 20-week time-frame is too narrow because some genetic abnormalities may manifest only after 20 weeks of pregnancy.The limit should be extended to 24 weeks, say many doctors.

There have been many cases where a woman was forced to carry her baby to term because the SC denied her an abortion, or she was too late in filing her plea.

According to a study published in medical journal Lancet, 60 per cent of abortions in India are unsafe. The study was conducted by WHO and Guttmacher Institute. According to experts, there are more unsafe abortions in India because of poor awareness and stigma. There is also lack of access to proper facilities. The Centre had initiated the process of amending the MTP Act in 2014, but the bill still remains pending.

Also Read: SC Rejects 10-Year-Old Rape Survivor’s Abortion Plea