Parliament has passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which increases the upper limit for abortions from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women and removes limits in the case of substantial fetal abnormalities, with the Rajya Sabha approving the measure.
The Lok Sabha had passed the bill in March last year.
During the debate on the bill, most opposition members, including those from the Samajwadi Party, the Shiv Sena, and the Communist Party of India-Marxist were of view that the bill should be sent to select committee as it lacks privacy clause.
However, in his reply, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that nobody opposed the bill and once enacted, it will reduce the trauma and suffering of women.
The amended act will regulate conditions under which a pregnancy may be aborted and increases the time period within which the process may be carried out.
Presently, abortion requires a mandatory 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. The new act will allow the abortion to be done on the advice of one doctor for up to 20 weeks, and in the case of up to 24 weeks, two doctors’ opinions will be sought.
The Bill also provides to set up state-level Medical Boards to decide if a pregnancy to be terminated beyond 24 weeks in cases of fetal abnormalities.