By Aatreyee Dhar & Deepa Thomas
Although we may not have separate abortion facilities like the States with hand-holding and inspirational quotes painted on the walls, India was one of the first countries in the world to legalize abortion in 1971 in efforts to reduce the explosive population rate in our country by promotion family planning and population control.
According to the Abortion Laws in India:
Abortions are legal up to 12 weeks after the consultation of one doctor and up to 20 weeks with the approval of two doctors. The doctor should be able to assess that there is a serious risk to the mother’s health or that the child, if born, would be seriously handicapped.
How our abortion laws are more progressive
Aatreyee: In USA and Australia, women have to deal with a mishmash of state laws forcing them to take difficult decisions regarding unplanned pregnancy. At least, in our country where abortion laws are uniform and consistent with the MTP Act, any women can facilitate the provision of medical abortions hassle-free without travelling from State to State.
In Northern Ireland, abortion laws are restrictive granting permission only on the grounds of a threat to the mother. Our laws have at least sanctioned abortion up to 20 weeks with a relatively better time frame. Sadly, in some European countries, the time frame is only limited to 10 and 14 weeks gestation period.
Poland has the lowest recorded abortion rate making abortion legal only in extreme circumstances such as rape, incest, foetal impairment or threat to the life of the mother.
Abortion is not judgementally doled out in our country subjected to the brutal investigation of the causes hinging on the right to privacy.
Although women who are suffering from Abortion laws in India are encumbered with expensive and time-taking legal procedures, our laws have graduated to easy access from irreprehensible bans.
Where We Fall Behind
Deepa: Just this August, a 10-year-old rape survivor from Chandigarh was denied abortion by the Supreme Court. Another 12-year-old rape survivor from Madhya Pradesh was also denied abortion. Thus, both of them had to undergo C-section deliveries.
While some sources claim that abortion was denied because of risk to the lives of the young girls, some other sources blame it on stringent laws that do not allow abortion over the 20-week gestation period. The laws should be more understanding to the plight of rape victims who cannot be expected to cope with the mental trauma of giving birth to the result of a forced impregnation.
If a pregnant minor seeks abortion, the doctor is mandatorily required to report to the authorities. For this reason, some young girls think it is safer to take matters into their own hands than approach a doctor.
While on one hand the abortion laws in India are still way ahead of most other countries like El Salvador where anti-abortion laws are so stringent that women have been imprisoned for having a miscarriage, this law, which is more than 46 years old now, is in need of change.
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