FAILURE OF ABORTION LAWS IN INDIA

Abstract :- Abortion is the deliberate termination of human pregnancy. It also means feticide. Before 1971 there was no laws about abortion of the pregnancy because of which a lot of women opted for illegal abortion which came with a massive risk of life to the mother but at 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy act was passed which dealt with termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners and for matters connected therewith on incidental thereto. Abortion in India is a very confused topic, despite of considering abortion as a human right, every year a lot of women face a lot of problems to get an order from the court for a lawful abortion. Even after having a separate act on the abortion of pregnancy, India is still facing a lot of problems in this matter. This paper deals with the detailed research on why we can state the abortion laws in India as a failure.

Introduction :-  Before, abortion was treated as a sin in India. The women who wanted to abort, they had to do it illegally. So, in order to give Abortion in India a better and safer future, the Termination of pregnancy act, 1971 was passed.

According to the provisions of the act, the maximum time gestation for a legal Abortion is 20 weeks. The exception is, the abortion can be performed even after 20 weeks if at least two registered medical practitioners in good faith give a report that –

  • The continuance of pregnancy would cause a risk to life or grave injury to the pregnant women,
  • There is a substantial risk of mental or physical deformity to the child,
  • The pregnancy was a result of Rape,
  • The pregnancy was a result of failure of any device or method, the couple used for the purpose of limiting the number of children.

Even after having such laws, women in India go through a lot of problems just to seek a legal permission for a safe abort.

  • A study published in the Lancet Global Health mentioned that in 2015, 15.6 million abortions occurred in India, out of which 78% were outside health facilities. It noted that although abortion was legalised in India 50 years ago, 10 women die every year due to unsafe abortions, making it the third-leading cause of maternal deaths in the country.
  • In a case, a minor was raped and she was first examined for pregnancy at the 19th week and the doctors declined to abort the pregnancy even though it was legal to abort within 20 weeks. By the time she reached the Madras HC, she had crossed 20th week, as a result the court denied to permit the abortion under MTP act. Hence the minor was forced to give birth to the child of her rapist.
  • A report by an Ngo “Pratigya” stated that, Courts refused to allow minor rape victims an abortion in 17% of 82 cases between April 2016 and July 2019. Even though the MTP Act allows abortion until 20 weeks.
  • The physical and mental condition of a child can only be observed after at least 20 weeks of the pregnancy. But a lot of women give birth to a physically and mentally incapable child just because when they knew about this condition of the child, they had already crossed 20 weeks of pregnancy and after that doctors denied for an abortion.
  • Said Anand Pawar, executive director of Samyak that, “By not allowing women access to safe abortion, you are leaving women with two choices: death [due to unsafe and illegal abortions] or the psychological and emotional consequences of a pregnancy they were not prepared for,”
  • This is the result of the vague outdated act and the lack of awareness among women and doctors about abortion. A lot of doctors refuse for abortion stating some irrational laws by not knowing the actual law. Most of the doctors even fear to perform abortion merely by thinking that they can be sent to legal custody by doing so.
  • It’s clearly cited in the act that if it is immediately necessary to save the life of the mother then doctors have the right to go for abortion even after the pregnancy crossed 20 weeks of period. But the doctors deny because of lack of knowledge about abortion laws.
  • Very few people know about abortion being legal, said Pawar of Samyak. For instance, less than half the women from Bihar and Jharkhand knew that abortion is legal, according to a 2012 Biomed central study.

Conclusion :-  There is a serious need to amend the MTP act and to make it more clear. Initiatives should be taken to spread awareness about abortion and it’s legality in rural areas as well as in urban areas. Women should know about their rights and doctors should know about their duties. A lot of fatal information about the conditions of the fetus can only be detected after 20 weeks which can in no time make a wanted pregnancy to an unwanted one. So, a woman should be given the right to abortion of pregnancy regardless of the marital status, age and gestation period, as long as there is no risk to her life or health.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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