Abortion law in India

By Ayush Chandra 11 Minutes Read

India is a nation of theism and devoutness, considers in a child as a reward of the lord, changing the concept of abortion as cruel wrong or somewhat a taboo. However, the flow of modernization and post-colonial ideological struggle covered a way wherein, people attempted to cope up within society, and contemporary necessity, medical termination of fertilization is one amongst the lot, which allowed a symbol of aid to all those women dying crosswise the nation in deficiency of trustworthy and necessary abortion. Indeed, this was a light of confidence in the foggy twilight, taking the load of social publicity. Yet the discussion of necessity came down to the fundamental right conferring justice and freedom in all fields to everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, gender, or sex bias, which guarantees to appreciate and believe everyone’s life and personal liberty with full pride. But a curious impression tends to pendulant around this typical Indian independence asking, what concerning few powers connected to a woman, in particular, a free right of a woman on her womb, on her body, a right of abortion without ambiguous limitations. This article is reasonably assigned to the pregnancy as well as abortion rights Indian women hold and the right that should be provided to them along with the variety that is supported by the MTP amendment bill 2020. [1]

What today India has is the nature of rights and responsibilities accessible to all the gender, but the circumstances have never been the same, this is not very different in the course of abortion and pregnancy rules as well. Today India is reaching among 14 other countries where abortion is administered on a large scale of socio-economic conditions rather than abortion on demand. But the condition before 1971, when India was in the lap of foreign struggle, women across the nation were struggling slightly for abortion claims, as aborting a child was an illegal offense, condemned under section 312 of IPC, 1860 [2], which was identical to the abortion produced by mistake deliberately. That was a time when the parental fatality rate was on its summit. Threatening abortion and restrictive abortion law only provides women attempting criminal and hazardous undertaking. Observing the condition in place, the then ministry of health and family welfare in 1964 established Shah committee directed by Shanitilal Shah[3] and the direction tabled by the said committee revealed the vital need for valid and appropriate abortion law in place, Medical termination of pregnancy act 1971 (MTP) was the outcome of the report, that tends to govern abortion concerns and struggle, this act was implemented to all the states and union territories except Jammu and Kashmiri. The provisions incorporated in the act relaxed the repercussions supported by needed abortion.

  1. MTP Act divided its administrative chassis, compartmentalizing the development age of the fetus. Section 3 of act as mentioned earlier ideals with abortion up to 12 weeks where the opinion of one designated medical practitioner is expected to affect that the constituency of the pregnancy would pose a danger to the life or will cause painful damage to her physical or mental health of the mother, or the child has some irregularities undesired, in case of 12 to 20 weeks of the pregnancy period, the opinion of two medical practitioners endorsing either of the two situations is needed, Beyond 20 weeks, termination can be brought out where it is needed to save the life of the women.
  2. Indeed, this act was a landmark in the field of women’s independence; instead, the tip to toe crux of this act was established and prevented. The truth that abortion method at all the degrees of the pregnancy, the healthcare providers rather than the women attempting termination have an ultimate say violates rights secured, and abortion laws in other 67 countries like France, South Africa, where women can make an abortion performed on appeal, without supervisor permission.
  3. In addition to that, the administration of this act commands wedded women, as if a spinster doesn’t hold a womb, performing this act orthodox and inappropriate for contemporary India.
  4. The third problem with this act is it doesn’t hold terms regarding cases where foetal abnormalities get recognized after 20 weeks, as abortion after 20 weeks can be brought out only to save mothers’ life and not in any other situation.


In the year 2008, Haresh and Nikita Mehta filed an appeal to nullify their unborn child enduring from a heart [4]defect, which was abandoned in the 22nd week of the pregnancy but retreated empty-handed and ultimately faced miscarriage in 35th week. Multiple such cases have sprung since then, but there are only a few cases where The Supreme court of India established petition asking an abortion.

Samar Ghosh v. Jaya Ghosh, [5]the Supreme Court considered whether a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy without her spouse understands or approval would amount to mental torture. The Court, in this case, ordered that “if the wife endures vasectomy or abortion without medical purpose or the permission or understanding of her husband, such as performance may point to mental torture.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill, 2020

Some of the cases, as mentioned above and judgment happening in damage and struggle of interest and laws formed in collaboration and forced the government to come up with the freshly signed medical termination of pregnancy amendment bill 2020[6].  This bill was presented on March 2, 2020, by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan is an acclaimed movement towards women’s right as this is the second time in past 49 years when our selected legislators have time to advance in the subjects such as abortion.  This bill serves to improve the old, neurotic, and weak act wherein the bill alters few provisions and states that a pregnancy may be terminated within 20 weeks, with the opinion of a certified medical practitioner. And the consent of two designated medical practitioners will be needed only for the termination of pregnancies between 20 to 24 weeks.  The termination of pregnancies up to 24 weeks will only ask for individual classifications of women, as may be directed by the central government.  

The original act declares that if any pregnancy happens as a result of any preventive mess used by a married woman or her husband to reduce the number of children, such unwanted pregnancy may create severe damage to the mental health of the pregnant woman.  The original bill revises this provision to substitute ‘married woman or her husband’ with ‘woman or her partner.’ Which will consider more progressive moves?                  

This bill talks about authorizing a medical Board which will consist of the following posts:

  • a gynecologist,
  • a pediatrician,
  • a radiologist, and
  • Any additional representation of members, as may be published by the state government which will present guidance and support in a significant and specific situation of abortion.

On the other hand, this bill concerns the field of privacy, declaring that no recorded practitioner will be entitled to disclose the identity of the concerned women until designated by law in force.

[1] The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan on March 2, 2020.  The Bill amends the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 which provides for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners.  The Bill adds the definition of termination of pregnancy to mean a procedure undertaken to terminate a pregnancy by using medical or surgical methods. 
[2] Causing miscarriage.—Whoever voluntarily causes a woman with child to miscarry, shall, if such miscarriage be not caused in good faith for the purpose of saving the life of the woman, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both; and, if the woman be quick with child, shall be punished with imprison­ment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.—A woman who causes herself to miscarry, is within the meaning of this section.
[3] https://ujala.uk.gov.in/files/issue%202/2Ch-13.pdf
[4] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Mumbai-abortion-case-Niketa-Mehta-suffers-miscarriage/articleshow/3363293.cms
[5]  on 26 March, 2007
[6] https://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/medical-termination-pregnancy-amendment-bill-2020

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