Abortion Law in India

“I am protecting women's rights, their human right to decide their futures for themselves, and to live their lives as they see fit.” ― Dr. Willie Parker Technically, abortion is legal in India but the definitions of the operative words “abortion” and “legal” are also dependent on the circumstances preceding them which brings us back to the keyword missing from this act, choice. the law doesn't address abortion as an alternative it's the doctor WHO will take an appeal whether or not the woman wants an abortion, although it's a right it is not one a lady can desire. The Medical Termination of pregnancy act 1971 (MTP act) determines abortion as permissible when the embryo is less than 20-weeks old under the following circumstances: • prolongation of pregnancy is unsafe for the survival of an expecting woman or could conceivably induce critical damage to her corporeal or psychological well-being • there is a tangible uncertainty that if born, the offspring could be rigorously handicapped due to corporal contortions • pregnancy caused due to rape likely prompting ominous shock to the psychological vitality of the woman • pregnancy prompted due to malfunction of contraceptives employed by a wedded woman or her spouse likely prompting pressing ordeal to the mental wellness of the woman . The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2020 was recommended by the Centre Government, headed by the Prime Minister, earlier this year to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP), 1971. The bill was supposed to be presented in the Rajya Sabha, but this has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the new bill has been considered 'progressive' and 'liberal' by the government, there are numerous concerns with the recommended amendments as well. The latest bill aims at stretching the time period of the permissible elimination of pregnancy up to 20-24 weeks. To eliminate until 20 weeks, an endorsement from one registered medical practitioner would be expected, and between 20-24 weeks, the endorsement of two medical practitioners would be expected. The new bill fails to take into account the consent of the person who doesn’t aspire to go ahead with the pregnancy. A person still won’t have the absolute right to abort a pregnancy, if they desire to. If a woman desire to get an abortion after 24 weeks of her pregnancy, she’ll be necessitated to get a permission from a Medical Committee consisting a gynecologist, a pediatrician, and a radiologist. The proposed amendment does not clarify as to would guarantee access to the Medical Committee and there is no mention of monetary aid, which might be needed while contacting the Medical committee. Moreover, how can the ubiquity of so many specialists be ensured in areas where access to healthcare remains to be a problem? For ‘vulnerable women’ such as victims of rapes and incest, women with impediments, juvenile, etc., the upper limit which was previously now has been stretched to 24 weeks. The recommendations again fail to take into account the rights of transgenders and genderqueer people, people who experienced intimate partner brutality, amongst other. Absence of access to convenient analysis and erudition can also be constituents for endeavoring elimination of pregnancy exceeding 24 weeks. The latest draft includes a concealment clause that asserts that inclosing the name and additional aspects of a woman aspiring to abort a pregnancy is a criminal offense, and shall only be disclosed to person of law. The initial Act took special care to protect the congeniality of the identity of the person seeking to abort. The new bill suggests that the identity of the person can be exchange with ‘a person of law’. This might compromise the confidentiality of the individual. The MTP act allows only ‘pregnant woman’ to eliminate a pregnancy, if they wish to. The New Bill also only mentions ‘pregnant woman’. It reinforces to be gender-binary and gender – biased. It falls short to provide the same rights to transgenders, intersex, and genderqueer people. Rather using ‘pregnant woman’, the bill should be using ‘pregnant person’ The MTP Act is needed in the first place only because the Indian Penal Code (IPC) still criminalizes abortion, hence the usage of the phrase ‘medical termination of pregnancy’ and not abortion. Many sections in the MTP act begin with ‘Notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Penal Code...’- as a means to protect doctors for conducting abortions. Instead of a doctor-centric law, like the current MTP Act, a new law that acknowledges the rights and autonomy of a pregnant person is needed. Access to safe abortion is a fundamental human right. What is needed is a comprehensive new law that ensures that no person is forced to get an unsafe abortion or continue an unwanted pregnancy. More policies and laws that center on the sexual and reproductive rights of people are needed. This includes and is not limited to access to comprehensive sexuality education, access to contraception, and safe abortion. “You must get the consent of an organ donor to saves lives. So, if we give a fetus the right to a pregnant woman’s body not only are we giving them more rights than a born person. We are giving pregnant women less rights than a corpse”

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