NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday approved the amendments in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, calling it a step towards “safety and well-being of the women”, but civil society members, experts and those fighting for the rights of women called the proposals “disappointing” and a “missed opportunity”.
Many activists pointing towards the minor proposed changes in the existing abortion laws said that the Bill was far from being progressive.
“While we welcome the clause to allow abortion up to 24 weeks in special cases, it should be without any conditionalities as it is high time the government realises women’s reproductive rights over their own body,” said Deepa V of Sama Resource Group for Women.
“The proposed amendments do not look women friendly at all.”
V S Chandrashekhar, CEO of Pratigya Campaign for Gender Equality and Safe Abortion, said that the proposed amendments were too minor to deserve any big celebrations.
“Not only gestational limit for MTP will be extended till 24 weeks only for certain category of women, there is also a provision that says that pregnancies with foetal abnormalities can be terminated only after being approved from medical boards,” he said. “I find that hugely problematic.”
Chandrashekhar further explained that medical boards often delay medical interventions required and often do not have the right kind of specialists.
“That is not going to help women in need of abortions as risks hugely increase with advancement in gestation,” he said.
Dr Shubhasri B of CommonHealth, a national level coalition, said that the Bill seemed positive yet stopped short of going whole hog on recognising women’s reproductive rights.
“I am relieved that the government has moved forward on the Bill that was stuck for a long time and much of the clarity will come through the rules to be framed later, but I would have been happier to see more progressive clauses.”