Abortion has always been a topic of great debate. Some consider it to be legal abortion while some consider it to be against the norms of the society. Illegal abortions in various instances have led to the death of the mother. So, in order to reduce the maternal death, Shah Committee gave its recommendation. It recommended liberalizing abortion laws. Thus, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill was brought before Rajya Sabha in 1969 and was further passed in 1971. It became an Act from 1972.
The preamble of the act permitted termination of pregnancy in certain instances, that is
– Where the length of the pregnancy does not exceed 12 weeks.
– Where the length of the pregnancy exceeds 12 weeks but does not exceed 20 weeks, if not less than 2 registered medical practitioners are of opinion, formed in good faith that:
- The continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant women; or
- A risk of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or
- If the pregnancy is caused by rape; or
- There exist a substantial risk that, if the child were born it would suffer from some physical or mental abnormalities so as to be seriously handicapped; or
- Failure of any device or method used by the married couple for the purpose of limiting the number of children; or
- A risk to the health of the pregnant woman by the reason of her actual or reasonably foreseeable environment.
The act also indicated the place for the pregnancy termination. It could be done only in a place established, maintained or approved by the Government.
EXPECTATIONS FROM THE ACT – LEGAL ABORTION
August 10, 1971, became a historic day on enacting of this act. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act came up in a hope of eliminating unwanted pregnancy. It was the first time when the failure of contraceptives was legally accepted as a reason for termination of pregnancy. Though it came up to be a historic day. But, this led to various problem. The desire for a boy child was completed easily with having a child sex determination test. If a test shows it to be a girl, she was aborted through the provisions of this act. And this practice used to be continued until it was a male child.
So it can be said that the act has both advantages and disadvantages. Just there is need to bring some changes in the act according to the situation. So that it can be of benefit for all.