Parliament passes Bill to raise upper limit for abortions

New Delhi: The parliament on Tuesday (March 16) passed a Bill that seeks to raise the upper limit for abortions for certain cases.

The passage of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in Rajya Sabha would ensure an increase in the upper limit for abortions from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women.

The amended act will regulate conditions under which a pregnancy may be aborted and increases the time period within which the process may be carried out.

The Bill also seeks to remove limits in the case of substantial foetal abnormalities.

The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in March last year.

Some members of the upper house opposed the passage and demanded the Bill be sent to a select committee.

During the debate, some members of parties including the Samajwadi Party, the Shiv Sena, and the Communist Party of India-Marxist were of the view that the bill should be sent to a select committee as it lacks a privacy clause.

However, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, in his reply, said that nobody opposed the bill and once enacted, it will reduce the trauma and suffering of women.

Presently, abortion requires a mandatory opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks. 

The new Act will allow abortion to be done on the advice of one doctor up to 20 weeks, and in case of up to 24 weeks, two doctors’ opinion will be sought.

The Bill also provides setting up state-level medical boards to decide if a pregnancy needs to be terminated beyond 24 weeks in cases of foetal abnormalities.

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