Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act

Editorial Analysis for IAS - Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act

Context:

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act was brought into force in the year 1971 to address the challenge of maternal mortality owing to unsafe abortions.

Background:

  • The Union Government in the 1960’s constituted the Shantilal Shah Committee to give its opinion on the legislation of the abortion law in India.
  • This was brought in to control the unsafe abortions which was taking place in the country.
  • Recently, the amendment was made to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.
  • After the amendment was done to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, broader provisions were inserted.
  • Post amendment, the time duration for medical abortion has been extended from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.
  • But this is allowed only in specific cases after the recommendation from the medical personnel.
  • It is mentioned that upto 20 weeks of the gestational period the recommendation of one medical practitioner is required but when it is for the period between 20-24 weeks recommendation of two medical practitioners are required.

 

Can the abortion be done after 24 weeks?
  • There is a provision for termination even after 24 weeks but there are formalities associated with it.
  • It can be done on the grounds of foetal abnormalities in the women, if it poses severe risk to her health.
  • Each state under the act is empowered to constitute a board, a four member medical board which can give the permission.
Judicial Interventions:
  • In the landmark case of the Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, the court held that the decision by a pregnant person on whether to continue a pregnancy or not is part of such a person’s right to privacy as well and, therefore, the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Apart from this there are instances every year where numerous cases approach the courts to against the medical board’s decisions.
Criticism of the Legislation:
  • According to the data of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there is severe shortage of obstetrician-gynaecologists.
  • In India there is a shortage of about 70% in the rural areas according to the data.
  • So the MTP Act which requires the obstetrician-gynaecologists to perform the termination poses a huge challenge to the public health infrastructure.
  • There is criticism that this law might push women to take up the termination through illicit means which poses further danger to the health of the women.

Source The Hindu