Landmark Stand: Madras HC calls for Increasing MTP window to 24 weeks
Madurai: Reiterating the stand of the medical profession on the issue, the Madras High Court recently stressed on the need for extending the legal MTP window from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.
In the interest of the children, women and future generation, an amendment is necessary into the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP Act), 1971, for extending the abortion window period from 20 weeks to 24 weeks; stated the Madras High Court recently.
Honourable Justices N Kirubakaran and S S Sundar of the Madurai bench gave the observation while dealing with a PIL on the issue and posted the case for hearing on June 24, 2019.
The judges said that in case of rape victims, there was a chance for getting conceived and those unwanted fetuses can be terminated only if the abortion window period is extended for 24 weeks.
"By this, the birth of unwanted children with a stigma which are the result of rape and forced relationships against the wishes of the victims can be avoided. In the interest of the children, women and future generation the amendment is necessary," the judges said.
The Doctors are also finding it very difficult to diagnose the abnormalities in the fetus within 20 weeks as the cases are reported very late, especially, in the rural areas, the Court said.
For that, the abortion window period should be extended from 20 weeks to 24 weeks and the neonatal care, as well as advanced scan centres, have to be established by the respective State Governments as well as the central government, the court said.
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Therefore, it is urgent need for the central government to come out with a time frame by which the MTP Act, 1971, could be amended as per the proposal drafted in 2014, extending the abortion window period from 20 weeks to 24 weeks, the judges said.
One more serious side of the issue is that in the country, thousands of women and children are raped every year and the number of rapes are shockingly increasing. In 2016, about 38,947 women are raped, whereas the number was only 18,233 in 2004, the judges said.
Raising the limit of MTP from 20 to 24 weeks has been a long-standing demand by doctors. They have repeatedly drawn the concerned authorities attention towards the issue. Since there are many congenital anomalies of the fetus that become visible only in the duration of 20-24 weeks including many cardiac anomalies, anomalies of the brain and spine and many more; it becomes important to conduct abortion at that stage.
In 2016, Medical Dialogues had reported about the arrest of a gynaecologist who had performed MTP on a patient who was more than 20 weeks pregnant. This had also sparked an age long debate on the law of abortions while fueling the efforts of many medical professionals aiming for amendments in the MTP Act.