September 30, 2022

Decoding the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 with Amendment 2021

OBJECT AND PURPOSE

This act regulate the procedure of termination of certain pregnancies and matter connected to it.

MEANING OF REGISTERED MEDICAL PRACTITIONER

  • In this act, “Registered medical practitioner” means a medical practitioner who 
  • possesses any recognised medical qualification as defined in clause (h) of section 2 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (research clause),
  •  Whose name has been entered in a State Medical Register and
  •  who has experience or training in gynaecology and obstetrics.

TERMINATION OF PREGANANCIES

Termination of pregnancy” means a procedure to terminate a pregnancy by using medical or surgical methods.

A pregnancy may be terminated by a registered medical practitioner where the length of the pregnancy does not exceed twenty weeks (5 months) and such medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that-

  1. The continuation of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or
  2. There is substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.

In above case, where any pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of any device or method used by any woman or her partner for the purpose of limiting the number of children or preventing pregnancy, the anguish caused by such pregnancy may be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman.

Where the length of the pregnancy exceeds twenty weeks (5 months) but does not exceed twenty-four weeks (6 months), in case of such category of woman, opinion of minimum two medical practitioners is required.

In both cases, where any pregnancy is alleged by the pregnant woman to have been caused by rape, the anguish caused by the pregnancy shall be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman.

In determining whether the continuance of a pregnancy would involve such risk of injury to the health, account may be taken of the pregnant woman’s actual or reasonably foreseeable environment.

Pregnancy of minor woman and major but mentally ill woman, shall be terminated only after taking the consent of her guardian in writing. And no pregnancy shall be terminated except with the consent of the pregnant woman.

CONSTITUTION OF MEDICAL BOARD

Every State Government or Union territory, shall constitute Medical Board for the purposes of this Act to exercise such powers and functions as may be prescribed by rules made under this Act.

The Medical Board shall consist of the following, namely: —

  •  a Gynaecologist;
  • a Paediatrician;
  • a Radiologist or Sonologist;
  • such other number of members as may be appointed by state government.

If registered medical practitioner is of the opinion that immediate termination is necessary to save the life of pregnant woman, in such case, opinions of two medical practitioners and termination at those places which are mandatory under this provisions, are not required.

PLACE WHERE PREGNANCY MAY BE TERMINATED

Termination of pregnancy shall be made in a-

  1. a hospital established or maintained by Government, or
  2. a place for the time being approved by the Government or a District Level Committee consisting of Chief Medical Officer or District Health Officer.

PUNISHMENTS

  • The termination of pregnancy by a person who is not a registered medical practitioner shall be an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than two years but which may extend to seven years.
  • Whoever terminates any pregnancy in a place other than that mentioned in this act, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than two years but which may extend to seven years. And owner of that place shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than two years but which may extend to seven years.
  • No registered medical practitioner shall reveal the name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated under this Act except to a person authorised by any law for the time being in force. And if s/he reveals the name and other particulars, s/he shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

POWER TO MAKE RULES

  • Central Government has the power to make rules to carry out the provisions of this act.
  • Such rules may provide for all or any of the following matters, namely: —
  •  the experience or training, or both, which a registered medical practitioner shall have if he intends to terminate any pregnancy under this Act; and
  • the category of woman whose pregnancy is proposed to be terminated,
  • the norms for the registered medical practitioner whose opinion is required for termination of pregnancy at different gestational age
  • the powers and functions of the Medical Board.

This article is written by Arshi hayat Gnagohi. She is a lawyer, blogger at ababeelfolks and writes on laws, culture, books, cinema, food and literature.