Here’s another highly stigmatized topic that will never fail to get the frowns.
However, it’s not going to stop us from talking about it here today.
We believe it’s time to break the ice and let women know their options.
So if you had an oopsie or you’re just curious to know our country’s take on the subject, the process, and the risks involved, then you’re in for some real enlightenment.
Stick around until the end to find out.
Is abortion legal in India?
Yup. It sure is.
Abortion has been legal in India for over the past 50 years.
Initially, it was criminalized. But after seeing a rise in the number of unsafe abortions, a law was drafted to make it legal in 1971.
Yet, it still had some limitations.
However, on 25th March 2021, this bad boy came into effect- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 2021.
This amended Act makes safe and legal abortion services accessible to more women.
When abortion is allowed?
Under the MTP Act 2021, you can carry out an abortion legally at any time up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
And it’s allowed under the following circumstances.
- If going ahead with the pregnancy can put the mother’s life at risk.
- If the pregnancy can cause severe harm to the mother’s physical or mental health.
- If there’s a substantial possibility for the child to be born handicapped due to physical or mental abnormalities.
- If the pregnancy is the result of a rape.
- If the pregnancy occurred due to the failure of contraceptives used by a man or woman, irrespective of whether they’re married or not.
Who can perform an abortion?
Only a registered medical practitioner (RMP) can terminate a pregnancy. And they must hold the following qualifications.
- A recognized qualification under the Indian Medical Council Act.
- Their name is entered in the State Medical Register.
- Experience or training in genecology or obstetrics.
Whose consent is required for getting an abortion?
According to the MTP Act, only the consent of the woman who wishes to get an abortion is required.
But, if the woman has a record of mental illness, then a guardian’s consent is needed.
Whose consent is required for a minor girl to get an abortion?
For a minor girl to get an abortion, the consent of a parent or guardian is a must.
And pregnancy in such a case can even be aborted after the prescribed 24 weeks if a court authorized it.
Is the opinion of a medical practitioner needed before abortion?
The opinion of a single RMP is required if the abortion is carried out within 20 weeks of pregnancy.
However, the opinion and approval of two RMPs are required if the termination of pregnancy occurs between 20-24 weeks of gestation.
When does abortion become illegal?
Aborting after the prescribed 24 weeks is a criminal offence as per the MTP Act. But there can be exemptions if a court authorisation has been obtained.
And getting a pregnancy terminated by anyone other than an RMP or without the opinion of 1 or 2 doctors is considered illegal.
Also, aborting after the movement of the foetus can be felt is punishable with a fine and jail time of up to 7 years unless it was done to rescue the mother’s life.
What are the abortion procedures in India?
An RMP might suggest one of the following three procedures depending on how far along the pregnancy is.
This procedure is best performed during the first trimester ie. 5-12 weeks of pregnancy. It can either be done manually or using an electric pump.
Since it can be performed at an earlier stage, it’s quick and simple.
However, there could be a very thin chance for the termination to be incomplete and for the procedure to be repeated.
Dilation and curettage
Aka. D&C, it is a surgical procedure where the cervix is dilated and the contents of the uterus are removed using a sharp metal instrument.
It is a fool-proof way of ending a pregnancy.
This procedure involves the usage of two approved drugs- Mifepristone and Misoprostol that can terminate the pregnancy.
It’s the least expensive option and allows a greater level of privacy. However, it can be used only for up to 9 weeks and might cause cramps and minor discomfort.
What are the risks involved in an abortion
Generally, abortions are extremely safe when performed in-clinic or medically supervised.
But just like any other medical procedure, there could be some risks involved. For example,
- Allergic reactions to the drugs used
- Blood clots in the uterus
- Incomplete abortion
- Injury to the cervix, uterus, or other organs
- Heavy bleeding
However, there’s nothing to really worry about as these complications are very rare. And medically supervised abortions are safe and effective.
Abortion is a topic that attracts very strong opinions.
But no matter what different people’s perceptions toward it are, it’s extremely important to bring the facts to light and let women know their options.
And this blog does just that. We’ve tried to answer most of the questions people have regarding abortion laws in India.
However, if you have more questions, you can drop them in the comments. We would love to answer them for you.