The government has emerged the right to safe and legal abortions for all the women irrespective of their marital status. Health ministry has recommended recognizing abortion for failure of contraceptive or unplanned pregnancy. The move is to give relief to single women of our country and make accessible for them to opt safe abortion.
The recommendation made by health ministry is for the amendment of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act. Existing MTP Act requires a doctor to mention a reason for abortion. For now, reasons could be to save woman’s life, due to the physical or mental health of woman, in rape cases or incest. True, it gives more rights to married women but now if government passes such bill then single women will also have the equal right for abortion.
Where it is a taboo subject for single or unmarried women to be sexually active, government is recognizing such reality and aims to widen the scope of legal abortion regardless of their marital status.
Other amendment to the law in 1971, allows abortion any time during pregnancy for selective foetal abnormality, which can’t be detected during 20 week gestation period. At present, abortion is legalized only till 20 weeks of pregnancy. Ministry’s recommendation also includes extension of gestation period from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.
It also suggests allowing homeopaths, nurses and midwives to conduct non-invasive abortion with training. To make it easier government recommend ‘single opinion’ is sufficient for abortion in first and second trimester. Earlier the second opinion was mandatory.
Proposal is likely to be taken up by cabinet soon after the end of ongoing session of Parliament.
“Once the amendment bill is passed by Parliament, the ministry will elaborate on implementation of the law by notifying rules. That will bring more clarity,” an official said.
“Amendment will increase women’s access to safe abortion and we are hoping the government will attempt to pass the bill in parliament at the earliest,” said Vinoj Manning, executive director of IPAS India, a non-profitable organization working to increase women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights and to reduce maternal mortality.
Expecting to be a progressive move by government which gives women more right on her body and ability to take decision for her. It will be a bold decision as Indian society is quite conservative about such concept.