India’s abortion law is pro-choice, liberal, ahead of other nations

India’s abortion law is pro-choice, liberal, ahead of other nations


In the course of hearing a case involving a married lady seeking medical termination of her 26-week pregnancy, Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud declared on Friday that India’s abortion laws are progressive, pro-choice, and well ahead of those in other nations.

What is the historical background of Abortion laws in India?

  • In India, abortion was prohibited until the 1960s, and violators faced up to three years in prison and/or a fine under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • The Shantilal Shah Committee was established by the government in the middle of the 1960s, and its chairman, Dr Shantilal Shah, was tasked with investigating abortion and determining whether or not India needed legislation on the subject.
  • A medical termination bill was submitted in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and passed by Parliament in August 1971, based on the Shantilal Shah Committee’s recommendations.
  • Except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, was applicable throughout all of India as of April 1, 1972.
  • Furthermore, even in cases where the pregnant woman gives her agreement, intentionally “causing miscarriage” is illegal under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, unless the miscarriage is necessary to save the lady’s life.

What is the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971?

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971 allows registered medical practitioners to terminate certain pregnancies. The law relaxes restrictions on women seeking abortions and on professionals performing them. 
  • The MTP Act of 1971 permits abortion in the following circumstances: 
    • There is a chance of severe physical harm during pregnancy.
    • The pregnant woman’s mental health is at risk because of the pregnancy.
    • The pregnancy results from either rape or a married woman failing to use contraception.
  • If two doctors concur, a pregnancy can be ended up to 20 weeks after it begins, and up to 12 weeks if just one doctor feels that way. 

What is the opinion of CJI about the abortion laws in India?

  • D.Y. Chandrachud, the Chief Justice of India, expressed his admiration for the country’s abortion laws in a recent court proceeding.
  • According to him, the law is liberal and pro-choice, giving women a lot of options and rights when it comes to abortion.
  • “Roe v. Wade” comparison: Chief Justice Chandrachud highlighted how far ahead India’s abortion laws are about the historic U.S. Supreme Court judgment.
  • It was established by “Roe v. Wade” that the right to an abortion is typically protected by the US Constitution.


In conclusion, the case in question and CJI Chandrachud’s remarks underscore the progressive character of India’s abortion laws, the circumstances surrounding the specific case—such as the woman’s medical condition and the requirement for a medical board’s assessment—as well as the permissiveness of late-term abortions.