Press Trust of india

Delhi HC agrees to hear on Tuesday plea to enhance 20-week period for termination of pregnancy

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New Delhi, May 27 :  The Delhi High Court agreed to hear on Tuesday a plea for enhancing to 24 or 26 weeks the time limit to terminate a pregnancy in case of any health risk to the mother or the foetus, from the current 20-week cap.

The petition, which sought that unmarried females and widows too should be allowed to undergo legal abortion under the law, was mentioned before a bench bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi on Monday which listed it for hearing tomorrow.

The plea filed by social activist and advocate Amit Sahni sought direction to the Ministries of Health and Law and Justice to apprise the court as to when the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 would be amended in terms of proposed draft amendment of 2014 by changing provision that does not allow abortion beyond 20-week pregnancy.

It sought that the 20-week pregnancy restriction be replaced with 24-26 weeks by way of bringing an appropriate amendment in the law.

Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act prohibits abortion of a foetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

It said the existing provision of law deals with situations where pregnancy is caused by rape or due to failure of a method used by married woman or by her husband.

“MTP Act, 1971 is totally silent about termination of pregnancy of unmarried females and widows but it makes termination of pregnancy as an offence punishable under Indian Penal Code if the same is not done in accordance with the Act,” it said.

The petition added that unmarried women or widows be also held equally entitled to terminate the pregnancy under the law.

It sought, “To hold that the right to abort the pregnancy is a fundamental right of the woman’s body sovereignty and each woman has the sole right to make decision about her body in the context of carrying such pregnancy or to terminate the same, subject to checks as provided under the MTP Act or further checks, which may be provided.”

The plea also sought directions to deal with cases pertaining to termination of pregnancy where anomaly is detected after 16 weeks on fast track basis under MTP Rules to ensure that woman must not suffer due to administrative delay in taking decision or giving consent for termination of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court, in 2017, had declined to amend the Act which prohibits termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks, saying that the issue fell within the legislative realm.


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