Centre notifies new rules extending abortion limit to 24 weeks in certain cases

These include cases of sexual assault or rape or incest, minors, and women whose marital status changes during an ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce)

Pregnant woman
Earlier, abortion required the opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks | Illustration: iStock

The Centre has notified new rules under which the upper limit for termination of a pregnancy has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks in certain cases.

According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, these include cases of sexual assault or rape or incest, minors and women whose marital status changes during an ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce) and women with physical disabilities.

The rules also cover women with mental health diagnosis and cases of foetal malformation.

The rules are under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021, passed by Parliament in March.

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Earlier, abortion required the opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks.

According to the new rules, a state-level medical board will be set up to decide if a pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation and if the foetal malformation has a substantial risk of it being incompatible with life or if the child is born it may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped.

The board will examine the woman and her reports if she approaches for medical termination of pregnancy and provide the opinion with regard to the termination of pregnancy or rejection of a request for termination within three days of receiving the request.

The board will also ensure that the termination procedure, when advised by it, is carried out with all safety precautions along with appropriate counselling within five days of the receipt of the request.

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