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Government refuses to extend MTP limit beyond 20 weeks, informs Supreme Court

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Government refuses to extend MTP limit beyond 20 weeks, informs Supreme Court

New Delhi: Denying the demand of many medical practitioners and even patients to raise the maximum time limit of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP), which currently stands at 20 weeks, the centre filed an affidavit to this effect in the Supreme Court.

In its document submitted to the court, the Centre clearly stated that the right to reproductive autonomy does not outweigh the state’s interest in protecting the life of a foetus and therefore the ceiling of 20 weeks for abortion cannot be extended in a blanket manner.

What does the Maximum Limit of Abortion as per the MTP Act?

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As per the MTP Act, abortion is legal in India only up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. If the pregnancy is between 12 and 20 weeks, two medical practitioners need to opine that continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life the pregnant woman or grave injury to her physical or mental health. The Act also says that abortion between 12 and 20 weeks could be allowed if the child were to be born with mental or physical abnormalities. Although there is a proposal pending to extend this time to 24 weeks in special circumstances, it has not been passed yet.

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Why is the Doctors Demand?

Medical Practitioners have been demanding an increase in the legal period for an abortion from the current 20 weeks. One of the basic reason behind this is that there are many congenital anomalies of the fetus that become visible only in the duration of 20-24 weeks. These include many cardiac anomalies,anomalies of the brain and spine and many more.  Doctors have pointed out, that government should amend the act to include the valid reasons for MTP after the stipulated time of 20 weeks and empower the women to make a better choice. This inturn would ensure better quality of life for the mother to be, the unborn child as well as the practitioner acting in good faith.

Read Also: Doctors demand raising the limit of MTP to 24 weeks

Recently a petition was filed in the supreme court by Gynaecologist Dr Nikhil Datar which sought to raise the cap for terminating pregnancy from the current 20 weeks to 26 weeks. The plea challenged the constitutional validity of section 3(2) (b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 by which the ceiling of 20 weeks is fixed for an abortion. The petitioner also sought quashing of a provision which restricts abortions only in case of saving the life of a pregnant woman.

The apex court directed the Centre to file a reply in the matter

Centre’s NO to Raising MTP Ceiling limits

Filing a response the Centre said that the legislature in its wisdom incorporated strict conditions for carrying out abortions, keeping in mind that the state was morally and duty bound as the guardian of its citizens and has the power to safeguard the life of a foetus in the womb after it attains the stage of viability.

It stated that the right to reproductive autonomy does not outweigh the state”s interest in protecting the life of a foetus and therefore the ceiling of 20 weeks for abortion cannot be extended in a blanket manner. It further added that an unborn child cannot protect itself from the harm designed by his/her own mother.

“Petitioners on their right to reproductive autonomy does not outweigh the interest of the state in protecting the life of foetus in the womb, especially from the point of viability i.e from the period of 20 weeks onwards.

“It is a settled law that personal freedom of choice of an individual cannot curtail the freedom or choice of other individuals, especially the most vulnerable and persons who are defenceless. An unborn child cannot protect itself from the harm designed by his/her very own mother,” the Centre”s affidavit said.

It said that several studies have repeatedly found that even in cases where serious abnormalities were detected after the twentieth week, pregnant woman who chose to carry the pregnancy to term were able to better cope with the loss, mental anguish and trauma as compared to woman who chose to terminate the pregnancy.

The government’s affidavit said that India’s high maternal mortality rate is on account of woman seeking unsafe abortions beyond the prescribed ceiling of 20 weeks when no foetal abnormalities are detected.

It said that ratio of foetal abnormalities detected in children is extremely rare and hence the same cannot be attributed as the reason for India high maternal mortality rate.

Read Also: Raising MTP limit from 20 Weeks to 24-26 weeks: We will soon take final call, Govt Tells Court



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  1. Which studies is our great and noble govt talking about? Data from the biblical buffoons from the US should not be counted for any purpose. The current nonsense of getting permission for court while the foetus keeps growing with uncorrectable abnormalities is absurd.
    For that matter, does our great govt have nay plans to handle the attacks on obstetricians which have occurred in Maharashtra after they refused MTP because foetus was older than 20 weeks? I don\’t think so!


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