New Delhi: In a major relief for pregnancies diagnosed with substantial foetal abnormalities, the proposed Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to lift the 20 weeks deadline by proposing that no upper gestation limit would apply for termination.
These are among the significant changes sought to be incorporated in the proposed MTP (Amendment) Bill, 2016 drafted to improve the scope of legal access to MTP for special category of women, including 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).
An important change proposed revolves around the upper gestational limit for termination of pregnancy for rape survivors from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. Based on the directions of the 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 district courts, high courts and Supreme Court for MTP beyond 20 weeks so that immediate opinion can be given and urgent action taken.
”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 and the Ministry of Law and Justice,” Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare) Ashwini Kumar Choubey said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Friday.
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.