The Maharashtra government on Tuesday told the Bombay high court that the recent amendments to the central Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act were yet to be implemented by the Union government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These amendments propose, among other things, to raise the existing time period for legal termination of pregnancy to 22 weeks.
On March 25 this year, the MTP (Amendment) Bill received the President's assent and was notified by the Union government.
"However, its implementation was delayed due to the COVID 19 pandemic," government pleader Purnima Kantharia told a bench of Justices KK Tated and Abhay Ahuja.
The bench was hearing three separate petitions seeking permission to medically terminate pregnancies.
Two of the three petitioners are 22-week pregnant and had sought termination on the ground of a risk to the survival of the child owing to health abnormalities while the third petitioner is a rape victim, pregnant with twins.
While prior to the 2021 amendment, the MTP act permitted termination of pregnancies up to 20 weeks if the same was okayed by at least two doctors, the amendment increases this period to 22 weeks.
The bench pointed this out and said that the two petitioners did not require the court's permission for carrying out the termination.
At this point, the state's counsel informed the HC about the delay in implementation.
The bench took Kantharia's statement on record and allowed all the petitioners to approach any hospital of their choice to carry out the medical termination.
The bench also directed Kantharia to inform the local police about the case of the third petitioner, a rape victim, as mandated by the Act and to extend the provisions of the state government's 'Manodhairya Yojana' that provides for financial support, and rehabilitation to victims of rape, child sexual abuse, and acid attacks