In a major footstep to make it easier for single women to safely and legally terminate unwanted pregnancies, the health ministry has recommended recognising “failure of contraceptive” and “unplanned pregnancy” as legitimate reasons for abortion among all women, married or single.
According to a Times of India report, the move is part of a series of recommendations made by the health ministry for amendment of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.
At present, the aforesaid reasons are recognised legal for abortion only in case of married women.
The report quoted health ministry sources saying that the proposal is likely to be taken up by the Cabinet soon after the ongoing Parliament session ends.
As per the existing MTP Act, the doctor is required to specify a reason for abortion. This could be to save the life of the woman, in case of rape or incest, or due to the physical or mental health of the woman.
But now, the government aims to widen the purview of legal abortion seeing the growing reality of sexually active single or unmarried women.
According to the report, other recommendations include amendments to the law dating back to 1971 which would allow abortion any time during pregnancy for “selective” foetal pregnancy, which cannot be detected during the 20-week gestation period.
Moreover, it will help address the social taboo attached to sexual activity of single or unmarried women and instead allow them a right over their body.
The health ministry has also recommended allowing homoeopaths, nurses and midwives to conduct non-invasive abortion with training and also the gestation period be extended from 20 weeks to 24 weeks for “special categories”, which is likely to include single women with unwanted pregnancy, apart from disabled and other vulnerable women.