India may raise abortion limit
The National Commission for Women, the Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of India (FOGSI), the international community, and several other women\'s groups back the PIL, saying the Act violates women\'s rights to physical integrity.
Supreme Court to hear women’s plea to raise 'archaic' timeframe from 20 weeks to 28
Kindling hope for the lakhs of women forced to give birth to abnormal or still-born babies every year, thanks to an outdated rule in Indian medical law, the Supreme Court has decided to hear a plea seeking extension of the legal limit for abortion from the present 20 weeks to 28.
Two women victims of the law and doctor Nikhil Datar - who had in 2008 unsuccessfully challenged in the Bombay High Court the archaic Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971, which imposes the ban - have in their public interest litigation termed the rule "irrational, outdated, unconstitutional and a violation of women's rights to equality, health, and life".
The National Commission for Women, the Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of India (FOGSI), the international community, and several other women's groups back the PIL, saying the Act violates women's rights to physical integrity.
Armed with views of several doctors of reputed hospitals, they argue that now with advanced technology available to conduct a safe abortion at any stage without any harm to the health of the mother, the rules need to be drafted in a way to suit changing times.
Terming it a "serious issue" and saying "we will inspect the law", a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi has asked the Centre to respond if any fundamental right is being violated resulting from implementation of The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971) and fixed the PIL for final hearing and disposal in November.
Sarojini Sahai, a gynaecologist at Delhi's St. Stephen's Hospital agrees.
"Pregnant women are generally asked to undergo tests around the 18th week to find abnormalities in foetus. Some reports take three weeks and we lose on the MTP cut-off time.
A little extension will come as a boon to a lot of women."
Out of the 26 million births that occur in India every year, approximately 2-3 per cent foetuses have a severe congenital or chromosomal abnormality.
Most countries, including the US, UK China which have legalised abortion, allow termination after 20 weeks in case of severe foetal abnormalities, or to protect the mental or physical health of a pregnant woman.