Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act: Legal Help For an Unwanted Pregnancy
The Medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) Act is a legal solution for when a pregnancy is not a reason for joy.
Medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) Act of India
The Medical termination of pregnancy act is a legal provision made by the Indian law to abort or terminate an unwanted pregnancy, which can be injurious to the mental or physical health of the mother or child. However, terminating a pregnancy is medically risky beyond a certain time. Hence, the law does not permit termination of pregnancies that have progressed beyond 20 weeks.
Unwanted pregnancies include those occurring due to any of the following reasons:
- As a result of rape
- Failure of birth contraception methods (birth control pills, condom, copper T, etc.)
- Risk to the life of pregnant mother
- Health conditions that could be injurious to both the health of the mother and child, e.g., physical deformities, genetic or chromosomal defects, defects in the baby’s nervous system
- Pregnancy occurring before the age of 18 years (minor)
The objective of medical termination of pregnancy act is to
- safeguard the mother’s health, both physical and mental, from injurious effects of undesirable pregnancy.
- to avail the right to the women to decide whether to continue or terminate the pregnancy.
- to decrease the number of illegal and unsafe abortions performed by untrained individuals under unhygienic conditions, which prove risky for the women’s health.
History of the medical termination of pregnancy act 1971
The MTP act was passed in the Rajya Sabha in 1971. It came in effect in 1972, which was revised in 1975.
Medical termination of pregnancy act insights:
- The MTP act stays strong on the fact that the termination of pregnancy should be performed only by a registered medical practitioner who is well qualified and has an experience in the field of gynecology and obstetrics.
- A registered medical practitioner is not held guilty under Medical termination of pregnancy act section 3 when a pregnancy of not more than 12 weeks is terminated.
- Section 3 of the act also states that a pregnancy beyond 12 weeks but less than 20 weeks should be terminated only after the opinion of two registered medical practitioners.
- The place where MTP is performed should be a well-equipped hospital with the provision of all essential drugs and instruments that are required for the procedure.
- The act also states that termination of pregnancy cannot be performed without the consent of the lady who is undergoing termination. Consent of the guardian or parent is necessary in case the women undergoing pregnancy termination is below 18 years or is mentally challenged.
Medical termination of pregnancy act amendment 2002 was passed with certain positive changes to decrease the number of unsafe abortions. MTP act 2003 (amended) aimed at transferring the authority from state to district level for approving the set-up of maximum MTP centers in primary healthcare centers, especially in remote areas. This was done to decrease the number of illegal abortions.
Some special Medical termination of pregnancy act cases are as follows:
- Recently, the Supreme Court did not permit the abortion of a 26-week-old pregnancy that was detected with Down’s syndrome. The court rejected the appeal put forward by the pregnant lady on the grounds that her pregnancy had crossed the limitations of 20 weeks and the baby detected with Down’s syndrome during the pregnancy does cause any health issues in the mother.
- In 2015, the Supreme Court granted permission to abort a pregnancy beyond 20 weeks in a 14-year-old rape victim.
- In January 2017, the Supreme Court allowed medical termination of pregnancy of 24 weeks in a woman. The court treated the woman’s case as a special one, as the fetus was diagnosed with a birth defect where the baby would be born without some parts of the skull and brain (anencephaly).
Medical termination of pregnancy act amendment 2014:
A bill was drafted for the amendment (minor positive changes) of section 3 of MTP act 1971 in 2014. The medical termination of pregnancy act provisions for the bill drafted in 2014 stated extension in the limit of termination of pregnancy from 20 weeks to 24 weeks in special conditions like certain medical conditions in which the child may suffer after birth or pregnancy arising from rape.
Medical termination of pregnancy act in India is the right granted by law to every woman in the country. It aims to safeguard the physical and mental health of women in cases of unwanted pregnancy. However, the MTP act does not permit termination of a pregnancy that encourages gender bias. It is a punishable criminal offence to abort the pregnancy of a girl child in the court of law.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor.