- A married woman 26 weeks pregnant has approached the Supreme Court seeking to terminate her pregnancy citing inability to take care of the child due to post-partum depression and other health issues.
What does the MTP Act say?
- According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment Act 2021, the opinion of only one registered medical practitioner will be required for the abortion of a foetus up to 20 weeks of gestation and of two for the termination of pregnancy from 20 to 24 weeks of gestation.
- The opinion of a state-level medical board is required for abortions over 24 weeks, in case of suspected foetal abnormalities.
How is the 2021 law different from the earlier 1971 MTP Act?
- The 2021 Act increased the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women, including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women like differently abled and minors.
- A confidentiality clause was added which said that the name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated cannot be revealed except to a person authorised by law.
- It also extended MTP services, under the clause of failure of contraceptive, to unmarried women to provide access to safe abortion based on a woman’s choice, irrespective of marital status.
What is the global trend on abortion laws?
- Globally, there has been a trend towards liberalisation of abortion laws and increased access to abortion services.
- Since the early 1990s, nearly 60 countries across the world have eased abortion laws to expand the grounds under which abortion is legal.
- Only four countries, namely the U.S., El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Poland have removed legal grounds for abortion during this time period.
- Most notably, the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion in 2022.