The Union Cabinet has done well to approve a bill that seeks to amend India’s outmoded abortion law. Slated befor the Parliament, if it gets the nod, the piece of legislation will amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
What changes will take place in The MTP Act, 1971 if the bill gets the parliament’s Sanction?
1. The Bill seeks to increase the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for termination of pregnancy.
2. The above provision will also be applicable on the unmarried women and therefore, relaxing one of the regressive clauses of the 1971 Act: single women couldn’t cite contraceptive failure as a reason for seeking termination of pregnancy.
3. It also has a provision to protect the privacy of the person seeking abortion.
4. The ante-diluvian preference for a male child keeps sex determination centres in business in spite of their illegal status. Thus the litmus test of the the proposed MTP law’s claims to being women-centric lies in addressing all such concerns.
Criticisms to the MTP Act 1971
1. The MTP Act, 1971 was replete with unclear language, which resulted in doctors refusing to perform abortions even within the stipulated 20 weeks gestation limit.
2. It failed to keep pace with the advances in Medical technology that allow for the removal of a foetus at a relatively advanced state of pregnancy. Moreover, a number of foetus abnormalities are detected after the 20th week, often turning a wanted pregnancy into an unwanted one.