Yesterday, a 14-year-old girl filed a petition to seek permission to terminate her 26-week pregnancy. The girl alleged that she was raped by her relative. On this, the Chief justice of the Supreme Court of India sought medical advice from the State government hospital’s medical board to provide an answer to whether the abortion would be possible or not. This should be done within a week after a diagnosis of her medical condition.
In the last few years, there has been many questions with regards to the abortion of the pregnancies which have crossed the 20 week-mark. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 has barred the performing of abortion if the foetus has crossed the 20-week mark. However, an exception of the law has to be made if a registered medical practitioner certifies to a court that the continued pregnancy is life threatening for the mother.
There were huge protests against this law as it imposes sever restrictions on the reproductive choice of a woman, her personal liberty and bodily autonomy. Several affected women, especially the ones who survived rape, have approached the supreme court against this law. However, the court has dealt with each case differently and based on the facts and circumstances of the case. Three years back, the Supreme Court even admitted a petition which sought the decriminalization of abortion.
Within the recent years, the new drafts of law have been frequently proposed in the past to amend the Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and remove the cap on the length of pregnancy for aborting a foetus diagnosed with “substantial foetal abnormalities”. With this, the Union Cabinet also approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which proposed new clauses to increase the upper gestation limit termination of pregnancy.