LAWS RELATED TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND ABORTION IN INDIA

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 gave women a right to safe and legal abortion. In 2021, the amended act was put forth and passed including unmarried women being allowed to seek safe abortion services on grounds of contraceptive failure, increase in gestation limit to 24 weeks for special categories of women, and opinion of one provider required up to 20 weeks of gestation.

Before 1971, abortion was criminalized under Section 312 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code, 1860). It described abortion as intentionally “causing miscarriage”. Except in cases where abortion was carried out to save the life of the woman, it was a punishable offense and criminalized women/providers, with whoever voluntarily caused a woman with child to miscarry facing three years in prison and/or a fine, and the woman availing of the service facing seven years in prison and/or a fine.

It was in the 1960s when abortion was legal in 15 countries, the deliberations on a legal framework for induced abortion in India were initiated. The alarmingly increased number of abortions taking place put the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on alert. To address this, the government of India instated a committee in 1964 led by Shantilal Shah to come up with suggestions to draft the abortion law for India. The recommendations of this committee were accepted in 1970 and introduced in the Parliament as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill that was passed in August 1971 as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

There is significant variance in the estimates for the number of abortions reported and the total number of estimated abortions taking place in India. According to HMIS reports, the total number of spontaneous/induced abortions that took place in India in 2016–17 was approximately 970436, in 2015–16 was 901781, in 2014–15 was 901839, and in 2013–14 was 790587. Ten women reportedly die due to unsafe abortions every day in India.

In a nation like India where poverty and unemployment exist at alarming rates, it is the women who are the most vulnerable. The amended act (Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act) does provide certain provisions that are quite necessary for the country. However, it is still a dream for some women to have safe childbirth or abortion. The developing countries are moving towards the better, it is the people who have to mend their ways. This patriarchal and misogynistic society never benefitted anyone and will not benefit anyone in the future as well.

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.

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