This week, India’s Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2020 (‘MTP Bill’) was introduced and passed by the Upper House of the Parliament. The Bill amends the 50-year-old MTP Act, 1971, which sets the conditions, gestational periods and regulations for when and how a pregnancy can be terminated. The Bill is expected to be signed into law by the President.
The following is a statement from Enid Muthoni, senior vice president, Global Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights, a global legal organization working to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world:
“India has taken an important step in amending its 50-year-old abortion law. In a country where every day, approximately eight women die from complications related to unsafe abortion, the increase in gestational limits will ensure that more women are able to access safe and dignified abortion care.
“However, more work is called for to expand access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in India in a non-discriminatory, truly rights-based and inclusive framework.
“While the amendment removes the upper gestational limit of 24 weeks, it does so only in cases of “severe fetal abnormalities” — failing to recognize the needs of survivors of sexual violence. It also requires formal authorization from a three-person medical board, which in practice may intrude on a person’s autonomy to make their own health care decisions, further exacerbating existing barriers to access safe abortion care, particularly for the most vulnerable women.
“We look forward to continuing to work with and support our local partners, and work with the government, to continue strengthening the legal and regulatory guarantees for access to abortion in line with international human rights standards.”
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