MTP Amendment Bill, 2014: towards re-imagining abortion care
In India, the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, while allowing abortions under a broad range of circumstances, can be considered a conservative law from a feminist perspective. The Act allows healthcare providers rather than women seeking abortion to have the final say on abortion, and creates an environment within which women are made dependent on their healthcare providers. On October 29, 2014, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released a draft of the MTP (Amendment) Bill 2014, which proposes changes that could initiate a shift in the focus of the Indian abortion discourse from healthcare providers to women. Such a shift would decrease the vulnerability of women within the clinical setting and free them from subjective interpretations of the law. The Bill also expands the base of healthcare providers by including mid-level and non-allopathic healthcare providers. While the medical community has resisted this inclusion, the author is in favour of it, arguing that in the face of the high rates of unsafe abortion, such a step is both ethical and necessary. Additionally, the clause extending the gestational limit could trigger ethical debates on eugenic abortions and sex-selective abortions. This paper argues that neither of these should be used to limit access to late-trimester termination, and should, instead, be dealt with separately and in a way that enquires into why such pregnancies are considered unwanted.
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