New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 to facilitate better access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds.
The Bill will be introduced in the ensuing session of Parliament beginning January 31.
The proposed amendments include substitution of certain sub-sections, certain new clauses under some sections in the existing Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 with a view to increasing upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions.
It is also meant to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.
The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It (MTP Bill) is a step towards the safety and well-being of women many of whom will be benefited,” said a Cabinet note.
Several petitions were recently received by 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 proposed increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy, said the note.
In order to increase access of women to safe abortion services and taking into account the advances in medical technology, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare proposed amendments after extensive consultation with various stakeholders and several ministries.
The Bill proposes requirement for opinion of one provider for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation and introducing the requirement of opinion of two providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
The Cabinet note said the Bill aims at enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women which will be defined in the amendments to the MTP Rules. It would include vulnerable women besides survivors of rape, victims of incest and others (such as differently-abled women and minors).
“Upper gestation limit would not apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by a medical board. The composition, functions and other details of the board are to be prescribed subsequently in rules under the Act,” it said.
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 note said.