The Centre has increased the gestational limit for termination of pregnancy to 24 weeks from 20 weeks in special cases.
The new rules come under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 that was passed by Parliament in March this year.
Here are some of the commonly asked questions:
Who can terminate their pregnancy?
Seven specific categories of women will be eligible for termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks. These include survivors of sexual assault, rape or incest, minors, and those women whose marital status has changed during pregnancy (widowhood and divorce).
The increased limit of termination will also be applicable to women with physical disabilities and mental illnesses. Apart from this, those with foetal malformation with substantial risk of physical or mental abnormalities and pregnant women in disaster or emergency situations can also go for termination till 24 weeks.
Who will decide whether pregnancy can be terminated?
The new rules notify that a state-level medical board will be set up to decide if abortion can be carried out up to 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation, where there is a substantial risk of life, physical or mental abnormalities or handicaps.
The board will examine the woman and her reports and approve or reject within three days of receiving the request.
The board will also have to ensure that the termination procedure is carried out with all safety precautions. It will see to it that the woman receives appropriate counselling within five days of the receipt of the request for termination of pregnancy.
What were the earlier terms and conditions for abortion?
Earlier, if a woman sought to terminate her pregnancy within 12 weeks of conception, she would require the opinion of a doctor. If a woman sought to abort between 12 and 20 weeks of conception, two doctors would have to approve the termination.
What is Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2020?
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2020 amends the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha last year, was approved by the Rajya Sabha in March.
Under the new Act, abortion could be done "where the length of the pregnancy exceeds 20 weeks but does not exceed 24 weeks."
Two doctors would have to approve the termination if they believe the pregnancy posed a risk to life or physical and mental well-being of the pregnant woman or the child.
The Act prevents doctors from revealing the identity of the woman whose pregnancy has been terminated except to a person authorised by law.
Violation of the rules could lead to imprisonment of up to one year or fine or both under the amended Act.
Can the rules be extended to other women?
Given the advancements in medical technology, experts believe that the extended 24-week gestation period could be applied to all women.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)
First Published: IST