The central government, on Wednesday, October 13, notified new rules under which the gestational limit for termination of a pregnancy in the country has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks for certain cases.
As per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, the certain categories of women for which the limit has been extended include sexual assault survivors, rape or incest victims, minors, women who change their marital status during pregnancy (widows and divorcee) and women having physical disabilities, India Today reported.
According to the new rules, mentally ill women, cases of foetal malformation where there is a substantial risk of physical or mental abnormalities and women in disasters or emergencies as declared by the government are also included in the list.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 was passed by Parliament in March this year.
Previously, an abortion needed one doctor's opinion if done within twelve weeks of conception and two doctors if carried out between twelve and twenty weeks.
Medical Boards To Take Decision
As per the new rules, state-level medical boards will decide if a pregnancy needs to be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation having a risk of incompatibility with life, physical or mental abnormalities or disabilities.
The medical boards will examine the pregnant woman and her reports. Later, they will either accept or reject the proposal for medical termination of pregnancy within three days of receiving the request.
The boards also have to ensure that the abortion procedure is carried out with all precautions along with counselling and has to be done within five days of the board receiving the request.
New Rules Leap Ahead
Dr Loveleena Nadir, a senior gynaecologist, said that the new rules are a leap ahead for women's reproductive choices.
"I hope that this is the initial step towards making safe abortion accessible to all women in the country and not restricted to women in special cases. This would empower them and make India a liberal woman supporting country," she said.