The Union Cabinet is likely to approve certain changes in the existing abortion laws, recognising “failure of contraceptive” as a lawful reason for abortion for unmarried women as well, The Times of India has reported. The amendment, if approved, will make it easier for single women to safely and legally terminate unwanted pregnancy.
Currently, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, recognises “failure of contraceptive” and “unplanned pregnancy” as legal reasons for abortion only for married women. Besides, pregnancy can be terminated only if it harms the mother, if it was the result of rape, or if the child will be born with serious physical or mental defects.
According to the law, unmarried women cannot cite contraceptive failure as a reason to terminate their pregnancy, while minors need a consent form from their parents to get an abortion.
Sources told the newspaper that the Centre’s move to extend the existing norms to single women will help address the taboo attached to the sexual activity of unmarried women
Earlier in the day, the Cabinet approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, to increase the upper limit for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. While briefing the media on the same Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said the move will ensure that women have reproductive rights over their bodies.
The amendment is also aimed at discouraging informal termination of pregnancies and reducing the maternal mortality rate.
“The extension to 24 weeks will also help victims of rape, girls with disabilities as well as minors, who may not realise they are pregnant until later,” Javadekar said.
Other proposed amendments to the existing Act include allowing abortion any time during pregnancy in the case of foetal abnormality.
The Bill will be introduced in the upcoming session of Parliament.