by Pankaj Yadav
NEW DELHI, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Indian Government on Wednesday raised the upper limit for permitting abortions from 20 to 24 weeks, saying it would help 'vulnerable women' including survivors of rape, victims of incest and others, besides reducing maternal mortality rate.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, confirmed a source in the country's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Later, the country's Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the extension of the permissible limit to 24 weeks would help victims of rape, women with disabilities as well as minor girls, "who may not realise they are pregnant until later".
The required amendments would be done in the "Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971", once a Bill in this regard is introduced and passed by the Parliament.
An official statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare stated that the "Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020" would be for "expanding access" of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds.
The proposed amendments include substitution of certain sub-sections, insertion of certain new clauses under some sections in the existing "Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971", with a view to increase upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions and to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.
The statement added that the amendments in the Act were a step towards safety and well-being of the women and many women will be benefitted by this.
Recently several petitions were received by the courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women.
The proposed increase in gestational age will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate pregnancy, added the Ministry's statement.