ABORTION IN INDIA

Despite 30 years of liberal laws, most Indian women still do not have access to safe abortion services. The 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was amended in 2002 and 2003 to include devolution of abortion service regulation to the district level, punitive efforts to dissuade the provision of unsafe abortions, the reduction of physical standards for early abortion facilities, and the sanctioning of medical abortion were all aimed at expanding safe services.

With their origins in the British Offences Against the Person Act 1861, the Indian Penal Code 1862, and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 made abortion a crime punishable for both the woman and the abortionist, unless it was done to save the woman’s life.

In 1964, India’s abortion laws were liberalized in response to high maternal mortality from unsafe abortions. Doctors frequently encountered seriously ill or dying women who had undergone unsafe abortions performed by untrained personnel. They realized that the majority of women seeking abortions were married and faced no social pressure to hide their pregnancies and that decriminalizing abortion would encourage women to seek abortions in legal and safe environments.

With the adoption of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971, abortion has been legal in India under varied circumstances for the past 50 years. Unmarried women would be allowed to access safe abortion services on the grounds of contraceptive failure, according to the MTP Amendment Act, which was passed in 2021. After the MTP Amendment Act 2021, abortion can be performed in India up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

METHODS OF ABORTION:

  1. Manual Vacuum Aspiration
  2. Electric Vacuum Aspiration
  3. Medical Methods of Abortion
  4. Dilation and Curettage

THE MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY ACT 1971: The MTP Act allows a woman to terminate her pregnancy under specific situations. It was intended to give some exceptions to a clause in the Indian Penal Code, 1872, that makes “causing a miscarriage” a criminal offence.

The MTP Act aimed to enable abortion only in the following circumstances:

  1. the pregnancy could affect the woman’s mental and physical health;
  2. there was a significant possibility that the fetus would be born with serious physical or mental defects.

ABORTION LAW AND POLICY THE WAY AHEAD:

  1. expanding the availability and accessibility of safe abortion services;
  2. increasing the number of qualified providers (including mid-level providers) and facilities, particularly in rural regions;
  3. streamlining the certification process,
  4. decoupling clinic and provider certification,
  5. tying policy to technology, research, and good clinical practice,
  6. establishing universal standards for both the commercial and public sectors, and
  7. ensuring abortion care quality.

These policies must be backed by political will and commitment in terms of proper financial allocation, training, and infrastructural support, as well as social inputs based on women’s needs, in order to be implemented effectively. Advocacy and action at the federal and state levels are required to implement the abortion-related operational measures outlined in the National Population Policy of 2000.

CONCLUSION: The right to an abortion should be freely offered to women for at least the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy. The MTP Act’s requirement of registration for the purpose of terminating a pregnancy should likewise be repealed. It is important to note that the private sector is a key provider of health services in India, and severe regulation of them causes them to refuse to register, resulting in abortions. The back door is available for a substantial fee or the same is refused.

ENDNOTES: https://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/l384-Legalize-Abortion-In-India.html

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