Madras HC for extending abortion window to 24 weeks

Madras High Court

The Madras High court on Wednesday felt that an amendment is necessary in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, for extending the abortion window period from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.

Justices N Kirubakaran and S S Sundar of the Madurai bench gave the observation while dealing with a PIL on the issue and posted the case for hearing on Jun 24.

The judges said in case of rape victims, there was a chance for getting conceived and those unwanted foetus can be terminated only if the abortion window period is extended for 24 weeks.

"By this the birth of unwanted children with stigma which are the result of rape and forced relationships against the wishes of the victims can be avoided. In the interest of the children, women and future generation," the amendment is necessary the judges said.

The Doctors are also finding it very difficult to diagnose the abnormalities in the fetus within 20 weeks as the cases are reported very late, especially, in the rural areas, the Court said

For that, the abortion window period should be extended from 20 weeks to 24 weeks and the neonatal care as well as advanced scan centres have to be established by the respective State Governments as well as the central government, the court said.

Therefore, it is urgent need for the central government to come out with a time frame by which the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, could be amended as per the proposal drafted in 2014, extending the abortion window period from 20 weeks to 24 weeks, the judges said.

One more serious side of the issue is that in the country, thousands of women and children are raped every year and the number of rapes are shockingly increasing. In 2016, about 38,947 women are raped, whereas the number was only 18,233 in 2004, the judges said. 

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