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Government notifies new rules to allow abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy for certain categories of women

The government has notified new rules under which the gestational limit for termination of pregnancy for certain categories of women has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks.

As per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, these categories include survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest, minors, women whose marital status changes during the ongoing pregnancy (widow and divorce) and who are physically are severely disabled.

The new rules also cover cases of mentally ill women, malformations of the fetus which have a substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child is born suffering from such physical or mental abnormalities as may lead to severe disabilities. and women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or in a disaster or emergency situation as may be declared by the Government.

The new rules come under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021, passed by Parliament in March.

Earlier, abortion required one doctor’s opinion if it was performed within 12 weeks of conception and two doctors’ opinion if it was performed between 12 and 20 weeks.

As per the new rules, a state-level medical board will be constituted to decide whether a pregnancy can be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of fetal malformation and if the malformation of the fetus is incompatible with life. or that the child, if born, may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be severely handicapped.

The function of the Medical Board shall be to examine the woman and her report if she approaches for medical termination of pregnancy and provide an opinion regarding termination of pregnancy or denial of the request for termination within three days of receiving the request.

The Board is also entrusted with the task of ensuring that the procedure for abortion, when advised by it, is carried out within five days of the receipt of the request for medical termination of the pregnancy with all safety precautions along with proper consultation. .

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India (PFI), said that in view of advances in scientific and medical technology, the extended 24-week gestation period should be applicable to all women and not just ‘special categories of women’.

“We welcome the new rules under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act recently notified by the Central Government which are a result of the MTP Amendment Act, 2021 passed by Parliament in March this year.

“However, given the advances in scientific and medical technology the world has seen over the years, the extended 24-week gestation period should be for all women, not just ‘special categories of women’.”

“In addition, the creation of a state medical board could potentially hinder women’s access to abortion services as many women later find out they are pregnant,” Muttreja said.

Dr. Jaideep Malhotra, Founder of Rainbow IVF and former President of Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India, said that it is a “much awaited, sensitive and forward looking revision for both the beneficiaries and gynecologists facing this upheaval. ” Is. for years and their hands were tied before the law.

Senior Gynecologist Dr. Lovlina Nadir said that the new rules of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act notified by the Central Government is a welcome step and a leap forward for women’s reproductive options.

Dr. Lovlina Nadir, Senior Gynecologist in New Delhi said, “I hope this is the first step towards making safe abortion accessible to all women and not just limited to women from special categories.” “It will empower women and make India a liberal pro-women country,” Nadir said.

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