ABORTION LAW IN INDIA

Author: Riya Dubey (Banasthali Vidyapith)


WHAT IS ABORTION? A procedure to end a pregnancy is called abortion. In this embryo or foetus and placenta is removed from the uterus. When a pregnancy is terminated voluntarily by woman, it is called induced abortion. And when the abortion process starts on its own without any intervention, it’s called spontaneous abortion.

Induced abortion is classified as: Safe abortion: abortions provide by professional health care workers and with methods suggested by World Health Organisation. Less-safe abortion: abortions done by trained health care worker using non-recommended method or using safe method, without accurate information. Least-safe abortion: abortions done using dangerous methods. Abortion can be done in 2 ways: Medical Abortion: It is a method that uses medication to terminate the pregnancy. Surgical Abortion: It involves operations and surgeries to terminate the pregnancy.

NEED FOR ABORTION LAW: According to the report, around 15.6 million abortions occurred in India in 2015. 22% (3.4 million) abortions were done under health care facilities, 73% (11.5 million) abortion were done outside the health care facilities, 5% (0.8 million) abortion were done outside of health facilities using methods other than medication abortion. 5% abortions were done through procedures that were unsafe. Nearly 1/3rd of all the pregnancies accounted for abortion, nearly half of pregnancies were unintended. In case of substantial foetal abnormalities sometimes abortion is allowed and sometimes it is denied. So now the question arises, what the Government is going to do for supporting these children further in their lives? We all have the right to live with dignity and when the mother of a unborn child already knows that the child is going to be differently abled and she is not financially capable to raise the child, she should be given the option to terminate the her pregnancy. Case: Sheetal Shankar Salvi v. Union of India, In this case there was woman she was 27 weeks pregnant, she prayed for termination of her pregnancy as the foetus suffered from Arnold Chiari Type II syndrome. In this case the Apex court denied permission only on the ground that there were chances of the baby being alive. The court further accepted that it is difficult and sab to raise a mentally retarded child. Case: Mrs X v. Union of India, Supreme Court held that women’s right to make reproductive choices and their decision to abort should be recognised as a dimension of their personal liberty. Case: Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Admin and Devika Biswas v. Union of India, The Supreme Court has held that a woman’s reproductive autonomy to be her Fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. After all these judgement by the Supreme Court, we can’t see any visible change in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to give effect to all these judgements. Thus, in order to cope with the problem of unsafe abortion, and to safeguard the reproductive rights there is the need of abortion law in India.

PROVISIONS OF THE MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY ACT: Before The MTPA, 1971 abortion was considered criminal according to Section 312 of IPC. It talks about ‘intentionally causing miscarriage’. The aim of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act is to make sure the well-being and safety of women. Provisions of the MTPA, 2020 are as follows: The Act has enhanced the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for vulnerable women like survivors of rape, victims of incest, differently abled women, minors etc. Enhanced limit does not apply in case of substantial foetal abnormalities. The woman whose pregnancy has been terminated, her name and other details should not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force. Case: K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, 2017 Supreme Court held that there should be the provision to protect the right of privacy of person seeking abortion. Now the opinion of 2 registered medical practitioners will be needed for termination of pregnancies in the 20 to 24 weeks. The Amended Act allows unmarried women to terminate the pregnancies on the ground of contraceptive failure.

SIGNIFICANCE OF ACT: 1. The Act will provide some reproductive rights to women because abortion is an important aspect of the reproductive health of women. 2. Death caused by abortion will reduce as abortion services are going to be performed by trained practitioners. After the Act maternal morbidity and mortality rates will decrease. 3. Earlier the pregnant women’s mortality rate was 8% higher due to unsafe abortions. 4. Vulnerable women like survivors of rape, victims of incest, differently abled women, minors etc. are going to get relief under this Act.


Who can legally perform abortion in India: To perform abortion in India abortion laws must be followed. 1.Medical institutions must have licence issued by the government in order to perform abortion. 2. It is important for the doctor to have one of the following qualifications to perform an abortion: 3. A medical practitioner must be registered and should have performed at least twenty five medically assisted termination of pregnancy in India. 4. A medical practitioner who has six months of experience in gynaecology and obstetrics. 5. A person who has diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics. 6. A surgeon who has three years of experience in obstetrics and gynaecology and who has registered before enactment in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. 7. A doctor if registered after 1971 and has been practising in gynaecology and obstetrics for at least a year.

CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION: Pregnancy is not only about physical consuming and changes but it also involves a lot of emotions. It is not easy for a mother to terminate her pregnancy. So there should be less conditions and more importance should be given to the will of the pregnant woman for terminating her child because she has right to make reproductive choices under Article 21 of Indian Constitution. Time is of foremost important in case of abortion. And various time procedural delays extend the length of pregnancy and make them unsafe to terminate. There is unjust limit for termination of pregnancy in some cases due to which women chooses unsafe options for abortion. Lastly I would like to say that government have to make more laws to make a woman independent arbitrator when the matter is related to her bodily integrity.

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