New Delhi: The Union government has notified new rules under which the upper limit for termination of a pregnancy has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women.
The The Rajya Sabha in March had passed the bill that allows abortion up to 24 weeks “for special categories of women”, from the existing 20 weeks gestation period.
The new rules say
The new rules are under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 passed by Parliament in March.
According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, these categories include survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest, minors and women whose marital status changes during an ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce) and women with physical disabilities.
The new rules also cover mentally ill women, cases of foetal malformation which carry substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child may be seriously handicapped
The rules also cover women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations as may be declared by the government.
According to the new rules, a state-level medical board will be set up to decide if a pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks up from the current 20 weeks in cases of foetal malformation and if the child may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped.
The function of the Medical Board shall be to examine the woman and her reports if she approaches for medical termination of pregnancy and provide the opinion with regard to the termination of pregnancy or rejection of a request for termination within three days of receiving the request.
The Board has also been tasked to ensure that the termination procedure, when advised by it, is carried out with all safety precautions along with appropriate counselling within five days of the receipt of the request for medical termination of pregnancy.
The new bill leaves the categories to be defined by the states in the amendments to the MTP rules and includes survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women like differently-abled women and minors.
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