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HomeNewsAmid US abortion controversy, know what the abortion laws in India say

Amid US abortion controversy, know what the abortion laws in India say

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The historic Roe vs Wade judgment, which made abortion a constitutional right in the United States, was overruled by the Supreme Court on Saturday, sparking nationwide outrage and debates on women’s rights and pro-choice campaigns.

The US Supreme Court scrapped the legal right of abortion in the country, leaving the decision up to the states for further rules. Followed by the judgment, eight right-leaning states also made abortion illegal in their jurisdiction, sparking a wave of protests.

In the midst of the outrage and the protests in the United States, a major question was asked in India. Do women in India have a right to terminate the pregnancy? If yes, then what are the abortion rights of Indian women?

The answer to this question is yes, women can get their pregnancies terminated in India on the basis of certain conditions, as specified by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 and the amendment of the said act in 2021.

What are the abortion laws in India?

According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, and an amendment made in the act in 2021, a woman in India is allowed to terminate her pregnancy under certain specified conditions, which include pregnancy by sexual abuse, failure of contraceptive, medical issues and many others.

Earlier, only married women were allowed to get the pregnancy terminated, according to Indian law. After the amendments made in 2021, unmarried women can now seek safe abortion services on grounds of contraceptive failure.

The MTP Act also grants confidentiality to the person who is getting their pregnancy terminated. As per the law, the details of the woman whose pregnancy has been terminated to a person authorized by law, and any violations of this can be punishable by law.

There are a few special cases where the gestation period defined for abortion has been extended from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. These special cases include –

  • Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest
  • Minors
  • Change of marital status during the pregnancy (widowhood and divorce)
  • Women with physical disabilities
  • Mentally ill women
  • Women pregnant with a child that has fetal abnormalities that can have a substantial risk of being incompatible with life
  • Women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency

According to Indian law, a woman can also terminate her pregnancy if it is caused by a failure of birth control methods or contraception. The anguish caused by “unwanted pregnancy” caused by failure is expected to cause acute mental distress and trauma to the person and thus can be aborted.

READ | ‘War on women, who’s next?’: Massive protests break out in US after abortion rights get scrapped by SC

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