NEW DELHI: After the Union Cabinet recently approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (amendment) Bill, 2020 that will allow abortion till up to 24 weeks of gestation in special cases, the Union Health Ministry is scrambling to decide if all gynaecologists can be allowed to carry out the procedure.
The Bill, once passed in Parliament, may later have provisions in the rules to only allow gynaecologists with specified experiences to carry out ‘late’ abortions, senior officials in the ministry told this newspaper.
The present law allows abortion up to a maximum foetal gestation period of 20 weeks.
“Under existing provisions, MBBS doctors are allowed to carry out abortions till 12 weeks of gestation while only specialists — obstetricians and gynaecologists — can perform an abortion on women who have a gestation of between 12-20 weeks,” a senior official said.
However, it is being felt that not all gynaecologists, particularly those without certain years of experience and training, can be allowed to carry out the abortions under the proposed norms as it could lead to a “newer, unmanageable crisis”, the official added.
“After the Cabinet approval, we sent the Bill to the Union Law Ministry for its suggestions and they have advised us to define the training required for such gynaecologists in the rules of the Act later,” the official said.
“We may, therefore, have provisions that only specialists with 10-15 years of experience will be authorized to carry out the procedure in both the public and private sector.”
Another official in the Reproductive Child Health division of the ministry said that special caution had been warranted by the law ministry since in many cases of abortion beyond 22 weeks, the fetus is in an advanced stage of life, and pregnant woman may sometimes need installation abortion.
The MTP (Amendment) Bill, 2020 proposes raising the abortion cap to 24 weeks for pregnant women who are survivors of rape, minors, women not in sound mental health or in cases where pregnancies were the result of incest
15.6 million abortions take place in India every year.
33%: This constitutes 33 per cent of the total annual pregnancies in the country.
3rd: Unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of maternal mortality.
10-13% of maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions.