Cabinet approves upper limit for abortion at 24 weeks

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 29, 2020 Published on January 29, 2020

The 24-week limit does not apply to special cases of substantial foetal abnormalities

The Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to extend the upper gestation limit for abortion from the existing 20 weeks to 24 weeks, clearing the proposal to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, will be introduced in the forthcoming Parliament session, said a press statement.

But medical opinion would be required from two medical experts for aborting a foetus which is between 20 and 24 weeks, it said.

Globally, pregnancies are aborted even at 32 weeks in case there are substantial foetal abnormalities. The Cabinet has clarified that the upper gestation limit of 24 weeks does not apply to such cases.

Recently, courts had received several petitions seeking permission to abort pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit, on the grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies caused by sexual violence.

It is therefore assumed that for petitioning to terminate pregnancies after 24 weeks, the mother will have to move the court, which will decide on the course of action on a case-to-case basis.

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, would include ‘vulnerable women including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently abled women, minors), the statement said.

The Cabinet has also given its approval for a proposal of amendments to the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 (NCIM), which is pending in the Rajya Sabha. The proposed legislation will ensure necessary regulatory reforms in the field of Indian Systems of Medicine education.

It has also given its approval to the official amendments to the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019 for amending the Homoeopathy Central Council (HCC) Act. Presently, the Bill is pending in the Rajya Sabha. The amendments will ensure necessary regulatory reforms in the field of Homoeopathy education.

Published on January 29, 2020
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