India’s Law on Abortion

Argentina’s Congress, Latin America Country, legalised abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy this week.


            In landmark cases such as Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Admin and Devika Biswas v. Union of India, the Supreme Court has

held a woman’s reproductive autonomy to be her fundamental right to privacy, that right to reproductive autonomy is an integral part of Right to Life under Article 21 of Constitution of India. The Apex Court stressed that a medical procedure of abortion cannot be carried out on a woman if she has not consented to it. Hence, the right to reproductive autonomy was held as a Fundamental Right.

            In March 2020, the Government  amended the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act

                                                      The amendment has raised the upper limit of MTP from 20 to 24 weeks for women including rape survivors, victims of incest, differently abled women and minors.

                   Failure of contraception is also acknowledged and MTP is now available to “any woman or her partner” replacing the old provision for “only married woman or her husband.” the change also accepts failure of contraception as a valid reason for abortion not just in married but also in unmarried women. The amendment includes the formation of a medical board in each state, which will decide whether an abortion can be performed or not

                                 The upper gestation limit will not apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by a Medical Board. 

                          If pregnancy has to be terminated in 20 weeks, the opinion of one doctor is required. But beyond that, opinion of two doctors would be needed and one of them has to be a government physician.


Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971

  • The law largely allows a woman to abort only if continuance of the pregnancy, according to a medical practitioner, involves a risk to her life; grave physical or mental injury; or risk of serious foetal abnormalities. This is the case even in case the pregnancy is less than 12 weeks old.
  • Abortion, as per the 1971 Act, is not permissible after 20 weeks of pregnancy; now changed to 24 weeks; only favour “special categories of women”, which include rape survivors, victims of incest, those who are differently-abled and minors.
  • While it protects married woman by allowing them to terminate an “unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, the same is not extended to single women” now amended,
  • The Act does not allow abortion of pregnancy in the case of minors or mentally ill persons without the consent of the guardian.


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