‘Raising time limit for abortion under study’

Published - August 06, 2019 10:26 pm IST - New Delhi

The Centre has informed the Delhi High Court that it has initiated the process for an inter-ministerial consultation on raising the gestation period for terminating pregnancy in case of health risk to the mother or foetus.

“The administrative ministry has already initiated the process of inter-ministerial consultation for the amendment in Medical Termination Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971 and will finalise the same as soon as possible,” the health ministry said in an affidavit placed before a Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar.

The Health Ministry’s response came on a petition by social activist and lawyer, Amit Sahni, for raising the time limit for terminating pregnancy in case of health risk to the mother or the foetus to 24-26 weeks from the current cap of 20 weeks.

It contended that unmarried woman and widows too should be allowed to undergo legal abortion.

The Supreme Court, in 2017, had declined to amend the Act which prohibits termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks, saying that the issue fell within the legislative realm.

The Health Ministry said it had sought comments from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Niti Aayog on amending the MTP Act and had in March forwarded a final draft to the law ministry for its approval.

But, the Law Ministry had returned the note saying that since both Houses of Parliament have been adjourned, the administrative ministry may, as soon as the new government is sworn-in, take a view in the matter after holding consultations with all stakeholders, the affidavit said.

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