The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. It will be introduced in the ensuing session of Parliament.
According to a release, the proposed amendment seeks to enhance the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women that will be defined in the amendments to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules and will include 'vulnerable women including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, minors) etc.
Also, the upper gestation limit will not apply to cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by the Medical Board. ”Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force,” the release said.
“The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds,” it added.
Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the amemdment to the ACT would ensure a safe termination of pregnancies and also give women reproductive rights over their bodies.
The extension to 24 weeks will also help victims of rape, girls with disabilities as well as minors, who may not realise they are pregnant until later, he said.
“In a progressive reform and giving reproductive rights to women the limit of 20 weeks of medical termination of pregnancy has been increased to 24 weeks. This is important because in first 5 months there are cases where the girl concerned doesn’t realise and has to go to court. This was discussed with various stakeholders. This will reduce maternal mortality,” he said.