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Home / News / India /  RS passes Bill allowing termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks in special cases

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha has approved a bill that permits the termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks from the existing 20 weeks for special categories of women such as survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 was passed by Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on 17 March, 2020.

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According to the proposed legislation, opinion of only one provider will be required up to 20 weeks of gestation and of two providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation. Further, upper gestation limit won't apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by the medical board. The composition, functions and other details of Medical Board will be prescribed subsequently in Rules under the Act.

The legislation states that the 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 Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds," the union health ministry said in a statement.

The amendments include substitution of certain sub-sections, insertion of certain new clauses under some sections in the existing Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.

The government had claimed it is a step towards safety and well-being of women. Public health experts have welcomed the government’s decision. “The MTP Amendment Bill 2021 acknowledges the abortion needs of unmarried women for the first time and is a step forward in ensuring universal access to safe abortion services for women and girls. The provisions would particularly help ensure safe abortion services are available to the most vulnerable and remotely-located women," said Poonam Muttreja, public health expert and executive director, Population Foundation of India.

Recently several petitions were received by the courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women. The amendments will increase the ambit and access of women to safe abortion services and will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy.

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