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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Abortion Laws: Amendment

One life at the cost of another


Indian abortion laws must be amended to prevent death due to abortion
GANESH KUMAR ROY | Issue Dated: December 2, 2012, New Delhi
Tags : Abortion | Abortion Law | Savita Halappanavar | Pregnancy | MTP | |

Savita Halappanavar was an unknown name till a few days ago but her death has sparked a debate all around the world about abortion laws. She was 17 weeks pregnant when she suffered a miscarriage and died after being refused an abortion in an Irish hospital due to Ireland’s stringent abortion laws. The Indian media has taken up the case like never before. Yet, the Indian media has vividly highlighted wrongdoing in Western nations while remaining indifferent to several similar cases occurring in their own country. Since ages, hundreds of women have died in India due to abortion-related complications but nothing has been done to counter it.

As per the Indian Abortion Law, only a qualified doctor, under stipulated conditions, can perform abortion on a woman in an approved clinic or hospital. The laws fall under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, which was enacted by the Indian Parliament in the year 1971 and came into effect from April 1, 1972 and was last amended in 1975. According to the Consortium on National Consensus for Medical Abortion in India, every year, on an average, 11 million abortions take place and around 20,000 women die due to abortion-related complications.

Abortion laws in countries like Canada (1969), US (1973), France (1975), Austria (1975), New Zealand (1977),
Italy (1978), Netherlands (1980) and Belgium (1990) vary greatly in the  circumstances under which abortion is permitted. It serves a dual purpose of both preventing unnecessary abortions and allowing it when necessary. On the contrary, as per a study by the World Health Organisation along with Guttmacher Institute, New York, Indian abortion laws do not throw any light in that direction; and above all, they do not clearly stipulate conditions and procedures with regards to an unsafe route for abortion. What is required is a rethink by the government on dated abortion laws – one being prohibition of abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If Ireland has the Savita case, we have hundreds more in tow.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017