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29 Jul 2017

SC suggests medical boards to deal with late abortion requests

SC urges medical panels for late abortion requests

The SC has taken note of the fact that lately, several expectant mothers at risk and rape survivors have approached it for terminating their pregnancies after the legally-permissible 20 weeks.

In many cases, by the time proceedings are done, it is too late for an abortion.

The SC has now urged the Centre to form medical boards to evaluate such cases on emergency basis.

In context

SC urges medical panels for late abortion requests
Legality of abortion in India


Legality 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.

If no legal option, it's self-induced abortions and backstreet providers

In the absence of legal options, many women in India go for self-induced abortions or backstreet providers. Ten women die daily due to unsafe abortions, out of 68 lakh pregnancy terminations annually. The third leading cause of maternal deaths claims 8% victims every year.

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If SC's order followed, women in need could save time

The permanent boards would examine requests from women to terminate unwanted pregnancies after 20 weeks, thus ensuring time isn't lost in approaching courts.

In the last year alone, the SC had to deal with seven such cases where either the mother had been raped or the foetus was at risk of being terminally ill or deformed.

Just yesterday, it refused a 10-year-old rape survivor.

The Health Ministry is also considering amendments to the MTP


The Health Ministry is also considering 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.

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