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All women have Right to Legal and Safe Abortion: Supreme Court

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  • Categories
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    30th Sep, 2022


The Supreme Court has held that all women, irrespective of their marital status, are entitled to safe and legal abortion till 24 weeks of pregnancy under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.


  • Voluntarily terminating a pregnancy is a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code, 1860
  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 allows for aborting the pregnancy by medical doctors (with specified specialisation) on certain grounds.
  • The MTP Amendment Act 2020 amends the 1971 Act, which regulates the terms under which a pregnancy may be terminated.
  • The amendment bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 2, 2020, and passed on Mar 17, 2020.
  • The bill amends the MTP Act 1971 to increase the upper limit for termination from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women
    • It also removes this limit in the case of substantial foetal abnormalities but constitutes Medical Boards at the state level to give clearance to such abortions

Reasons behind the amendment

  • A large number of cases filed before courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies beyond the 20-weeks on the grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to rape.
  • With the advancement in medical technology, pregnancies now can be safely terminated well beyond the existing limit of 20 weeks.
  • So, there is a scope to increase the upper limit for terminating pregnancies.

What is MTP Act, 1971?

  • Abortion in India is legal only up to twenty weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations.
  • One, the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of physical or mental health.
  • Two, there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

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