Written by: Shruti Srivastava (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
The Central Government recently notified the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021. The Rules, notified under Section 6 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, increase the permitted time limit for abortion to twenty-four weeks of gestation period, from the earlier limit of twenty weeks, for certain categories of women. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 amended Section three of the parent act, by extending the upper limit of pregnancy to twenty-four weeks and the notified rules mention the categories of women who can avail for termination of pregnancy for four more weeks now.
As per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, women falling under the following categories shall be considered to be eligible for termination of pregnancy as per Section 3(2) (b) of the said act:
- Women who have survived sexual assault, rape or incest,
- Women who are minors,
- Women who have undergone change in their marital status during pregnancy by virtue of divorce, and women who have been fated to undergo change in this status because of being widowed,
- Women who suffer from physical disability (disability to be decided as per criteria laid down under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016),
- Women suffering from mental ailment, including mental retardation,
- Women who are undergoing their pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations as per government’s declaration,
- Women whose pregnancy entails foetal malformation, to an extent that it poses a substantial risk of life incompatibility, or, if child is born; it may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped.
Apart from that, the Rules also make it mandatory to form a state-level Medical Board which will decide if a pregnancy can be terminated after twenty-four weeks due to foetal malformation. The board has also been mandated to provide its opinion on such cases within three days of receiving the request for the termination of pregnancy. The Rules also mandate the Board to ensure that the termination procedure, being conducted on its advice, is carried with all safety precautions along with appropriate counselling within five days of the receipt of the request of the medical termination of pregnancy.
Before this amendment, termination could be availed for after obtaining an affirmative response from one doctor, if had to be done within twelve weeks of conception, and in case of termination between twelve to twenty weeks, it had to be affirmed by two doctors.