The Madras High Court has issued notices to the Centre and the state government seeking their response on extending the period for termination of pregnancy from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.
The court had taken suo motu cognisance of a report by the World Health Organisation and a March of Dimes,non-profit organisation.They have has said that out of 2.7 crore children born in India every year,17 lakh are born with abnormalities found in the foetus itself.
The Court has said that since doctors find it difficult to diagnose the abnormalities in the fetus within 20 weeks as the cases are reported very late especially in the rural areas.For that reason,the abortion window period should be extended from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.
The High Court has also asked the central government to come out with a time frame by which the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971, could be amended to extend the permissible termination period.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act allows women to abort foetuses up to 20-weeks-old.Permission of a High Court is required beyond 20 weeks and courts can make exceptions if abnormalities are detected and if there is substantial risk to the mother’s life and health.
A pending bill in Parliament proposes to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to extend the legally permissible period to end a pregnancy to 24 weeks.