Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021

The act regulates the conditions under which abortion shall be done. It mainly increases the time period within which abortion shall be done.

Important Facts for UPSC Examination

  • The act was passed in 2021. Earlier the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 allowed only married women to undergo abortions. The amendment covers unmarried women as well.
  • The gestational age limit, that is, time within which pregnancy shall be aborted was twenty weeks earlier. The act increased it to twenty-four weeks for rape survivors and beyond twenty-four weeks for fetal abnormalities.
  • Earlier, opinion of one doctor was required if abortion was done within twelve weeks. If done between twelve and twenty weeks, two doctors’ opinion was required. However, the amendment has changed it to one doctor up to twenty weeks and two doctors if done between twenty and twenty-four weeks.
  • Earlier a fine of Rs 1000 was imposed if the confidentiality of the woman was breached. This punishment has now been increased to fine and imprisonment till one year.

Issues

  • The major issue around terminating pregnancy is the differences in opinion. One opinion is that it is the choice of the pregnant woman. Other is that the state has an obligation to protect her life. The developed countries have set the conditions based on risk to pregnant woman and fetal health.
  • The act did not include categories of women who are willing to terminate pregnancy between twenty and twenty-four weeks. It had left it to be prescribed through rules.
  • The act has put a compulsion that the abortions should be performed only by doctors, that too, specifically only by those who hold specialization in gynecology or obstetrics. In India, there is 75% shortage of such doctors, especially in rural areas. Therefore, a pregnant woman might find it difficult to select locations for safe abortions.

Benefits

It will help to end preventable maternal mortality. With this it will help India achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3.1, 3.7 and 5.6. The SDG 3.1 speaks about reducing maternal mortality ratio. SDG 3.7 and 5.6 speak about universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services.

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