NEW DELHI: The latest version of the draft Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill has dropped a key provision — of allowing AYUSH practitioners to carry out abortions — triggering concerns that unsafe abortions could continue unabated in the country, mainly in small towns and rural areas.
The draft Bill, which proposes to allow women to abort foetus till 24 weeks of pregnancy under specified circumstances, as against the current 20 weeks, has been circulated to all ministries by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare before it is presented before the Union cabinet.
The decision to drop a clause to permit nurses, auxiliary nurse and midwife and AYUSH doctors to perform abortions has come despite a push by the AYUSH Ministry to endorse the provision.“It was thought that trained manpower, rather than just gynaecologists, is required to attain the goal of largely safe abortions. However following a counterview by doctors’ associations, that clause has been removed,” said an official.
Government data suggests 8% of maternal mortality cases in India is due to unsafe abortions — the third leading cause of maternal deaths.Sabu George, an activist for women’s reproductive rights and against female foeticide, said, “Even in advanced countries, nurses carry out abortions. But here, under pressure from doctors, the government has buckled and has omitted the most crucial provision.”
What the MTP Bill says
Allow medical termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks in case of disability/deformity in the foetus, threat to the life of mother or foetus, conception occurring due to failure of contraception or if pregnancy is a result of rape or can cause mental trauma to mother
The extension is being allowed as with advancements in medicine, abortions till 24 weeks of gestation are considered largely safe and a big number of such women have no choice but to reach courts for permission
One doctor, instead of two, can allow mothers to terminate a pregnancy between 12 to 24 weeks