New MTP Act Comes into Force: Upper Limit extended to 24 Weeks in Special Cases
New Delhi: The Medical Termination of Pregnancy MTP) Act 2021, has come into force from last Friday, i.e. September 24, 2021 and has extended the time limit for abortion to 24 weeks from the existing 20 weeks in special cases. The amendment modifies Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act extending the upper limit of time for MTP to 24 weeks for certain categories of...
New Delhi: The Medical Termination of Pregnancy MTP) Act 2021, has come into force from last Friday, i.e. September 24, 2021 and has extended the time limit for abortion to 24 weeks from the existing 20 weeks in special cases.
The amendment modifies Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act extending the upper limit of time for MTP to 24 weeks for certain categories of women including the rape victims.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha back in March had approved the MTP (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.
The purpose of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was to expand access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds.
The amendments include a substitution of certain sub-sections, insertion of certain new clauses under some sections in the existing Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, with a view to increase the upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions and to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.
Recently, the Union Health Ministry notified that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 would come into force from September 24, 2021.
Section 3 of the Act clarifies when the pregnancies may be terminated by registered medical practitioners. However, the extension of time for medical termination of pregnancy is not applicable for all the women and it only applies to rape survivors, minors and pregnancies with fetal abnormalities.
Section 3 mentions, "In section 3 of the principal Act, for sub-section (2), the following sub-sections shall be substituted, namely:—
"(2) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (4), a pregnancy may be terminated by a registered medical practitioner,—
(a) where the length of the pregnancy does not exceed twenty weeks, if such medical practitioner is, or
(b) where the length of the pregnancy exceeds twenty weeks but does not exceed twenty-four weeks in case of such category of woman as may be prescribed by rules made under this Act, if not less than two registered medical practitioners are,
of the opinion, formed in good faith, that—
(i) the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or
(ii) there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality."
As per the latest media report by the Times of India, the activists opine that the law needs "fine-tuning" and commenting on the matter, a city-based gynecologist, who initiated the drive for changing the time limit for MTP back in 2008 informed the daily that he would not take his case back and mentioned, "The most commonly cited reason for abortion is contraception failure. The time limit for this remains 20 weeks."
"I am not planning to withdraw the case from the Supreme Court as there is still some work left to be done," he added.
The daily adds that in the last five years alone, more than 300 cases have been filed by women seeking medical termination of pregnancy after they were over the permissible time limit of 20 weeks. At this outset, the doctor added, "A system was created by courts to direct such pleas to a medical board. With the new amendment coming into force, we need to set up such linkages again. A guidance note or a framework has to be there."
When the doctor moved his plea for his patient, he had contended that the some brain and heart anomalies do not show up in scans until after the 20th week. He further mentioned, "We fought the battle and, brick by brick, have managed to get so far, but certain rules need to be laid down with a lot of thought."
"We were hoping the amendment would be in the form of an acknowledgement of women's rights, but it has not happened so far," said a lawyer adding that the amended law doesn't take into consideration many other legislations covering the rights of the disabled, mentally ill and transgenders, among others.
"The rules stating whom the new time limit applies to need to be properly defined. Earlier, doctors would use their medicinal background to assess if continuing a pregnancy would adversely affect a woman's health, but there are no guidelines yet," she further pointed out.