Abortion allowed till 24 weeks of pregnancy in special cases

What is the News?

The government of India has notified the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021. These rules have been notified under Section 6 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 2021.

What are the key provisions of the rules?
Defines Special Categories of Women

The act extended the upper limit for medical termination of pregnancy to 24 weeks, from the earlier stipulation of 20 weeks for certain special categories of women.

These special categories of women include:

  • Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest; 
  • minors; 
  • change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce); 
  • women with physical disabilities; 
  • mentally ill women; 
  • foetal malformation that has a substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child is born, he/ she may suffer from serious physical or mental abnormalities; and
  • women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations.
Opinion Needed for Termination of Pregnancy

Opinion of one Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation.

Opinion of two RMPs for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.

Earlier, abortion required the opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks.

Formation of State level Medical Board Mandatory

The rules make the formation of a state-level medical board mandatory, to decide if a pregnancy could be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation. 

Moreover, it would also be mandatory for the board to provide its opinion on the termination of pregnancy within three days of receiving the request for medical termination of pregnancy.

The rules also stipulate that the medical board will have the power to allow or deny termination of pregnancy beyond the 24 weeks of gestation period after due consideration and ensuring that the procedure would be safe for the woman.

Source: This post is based on the article Abortion allowed till 24 weeks of pregnancy in special cases published in Indian Express on 17th October 2021.

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