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Rajya Sabha passes bill to allow abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy

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NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha passed a bill yesterday that extends the current 20-week gestation period for abortion to 24 weeks for “special categories of women.”

Following the bill’s passage, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted, “The bill will protect the dignity and rights of women.”

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2020, moved by the health minister, was passed by voice vote in the upper house.

On therapeutic, eugenic, and humanitarian grounds, the bill also guarantees that women have access to safe and lawful abortions.

“The bill was drafted after comprehensive expert consultation with all stakeholders, including gynecologists, relevant NGOs, the Indian Medical Association, and others.

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The bill was formed after a detailed discussion by a group of ministers headed by Nitin Gadkari, as well as an ethics committee.

“The bill was also thoroughly debated in the Lok Sabha before being unanimously passed,” Harsh Vardhan said in the Rajya Sabha.

Last year, the bill was approved in the Lok Sabha.

The bill seeks to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

It raises the upper gestation limit for special groups of women from 20 to 24 weeks, although it doesn’t specify which ones.

The bill allows states to identify the categories in changes to the MTP rules, which include rape survivors, incest victims, and other marginalised women such as differently-abled women and minors.

The bill permits abortion on the recommendation of one doctor up to 20 weeks, and two doctors between 20 and 24 weeks for some categories of women.

The bill also establishes state-level medical boards to determine if a pregnancy should be terminated after 24 weeks if there are significant foetal anomalies.

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