India

SC allows woman to terminate 26-week-old pregnancy

03 Jul 2017 | By Gogona Saikia
SC allows termination of 26-week pregnancy

The SC has allowed a Kolkata-based woman to terminate her 26-week pregnancy. Abortions beyond 20 weeks aren't allowed in India unless in extreme circumstances.

The couple approached the court after doctors said the life of the mother and foetus were in danger.

The court based its verdict on a report by a medical team.

The petitioners have also challenged provisions of the MTP Act.

In context: SC allows termination of 26-week pregnancy

03 Jul 2017SC allows woman to terminate 26-week-old pregnancy

LawsLegality of abortion in India

Till the 'Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act' was passed in 1971, all abortions, except in cases of danger to the mother, were illegal under the Indian Penal Code, Section 312.

MTP now allows abortions upto 12 weeks. If the foetus is between 12-20 weeks old, permission is needed from two medical practitioners.

Abortion is allowed in cases of danger to the foetus or mother.

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Proposed amendments to the MTP

Proposed amendmentsProposed amendments to the MTP

Acknowledging the growing number of sexually active unmarried women, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2014 proposed extending the pregnancy limits from 20 to 24 weeks.

It recommended legalizing abortions before 12 weeks on the woman's request, without a doctor's opinion.

The draft amendment, which hasn't been cleared yet, permitted abortion beyond 24 weeks in case of grave danger to the foetus.

'Old act doesn't hold true anymore'

The petition of the Kolkata woman agrees: "…The 20-week stipulation for a woman to avail of abortion services…may have been reasonable when the section was enacted in 1971, but has ceased to be reasonable today where…it is perfectly safe for a woman to abort."

StatsIndia's fatal abortions

A 2016 government survey showed 2% of rural pregnancies and 3% of urban pregnancies ended in abortions. Failed/wasted pregnancies constituted 4% cases in rural and 6% cases in urban areas.

In the absence of legal options, women in India are forced to go for self-induced abortions or backstreet providers. Ten women die daily due to unsafe abortions, out of 68 lakh pregnancy terminations annually.