Recently through a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha Minister of state ( Independent charge) for Ayush, Shri Ashwani Kumar Choubey informed about the status of the bill on Medical Termination of Pregnancy.
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare conducted extensive consultative process (initiated in 2006) with experts representing Central Ministries and Departments including AYUSH, NGOs, academic institutions, State Governments, professional associations including Federation of Obstetric & Gynaecological Societies (FOGSI) and Indian Nursing Council (INC), civil society representatives and lawyers, with the objective of proposing suitable amendments. Inputs were also sought from National Commission for Women (NCW) and the Ministry of Law and Justice.
Following the inter-ministerial consultations, the draft Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was placed in public domain for comments. Taking into account both the public opinion and the recommendations from the deliberations, the proposed MTP (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been drafted.
a. The proposed amendments to MTP Act 1971 focuses on improving the scope of legal access to MTP for special category of women which includes survivors of rape, victims of incest, single women (unmarried/divorced/widowed to be established on the basis of self-certification of woman), and other vulnerable women (differently-abled women).
The upper gestational limit for termination of pregnancy for survivors of rape has been proposed to be increased from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. For pregnancies diagnosed with substantial fetal abnormalities, it has been proposed, that no upper gestation limit would apply for termination.
b. As per the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, State/UT Governments have been asked to constitute Permanent Medical Boards in each State for urgent examination of cases referred to by the Hon’ble District Courts, High Courts and Supreme Court for MTP beyond 20 weeks so that immediate opinion can be given and urgent action can be taken.