Is abortion legal in India? What does the law say?

Edited By: Manas Joshi
New Delhi Updated: May 07, 2022, 02:52 PM(IST)

Image for representation. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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With all the debate on abortion going on in the US. What about India? Is abortion legal in India?

Abortion rights are back in discussion partly due to the debate they have started in the US. A leaked draft of the US Supreme Court has suggested that majority of the judges are of the opinion that the historic Roe v Wade judgment be overtured. If this happens, laws on access to abortion to women in US will may potentially be re-written. Overturning Roe vs Wade thus has opponents in the US.

With all this debate going on in the US. What about India? Is abortion legal in India?

Short answer is yes, it is legal. Women can seek abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy are complete

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971) makes abortion legal. The law defines conditions, period and rule surrounding abortion. The act makes abortion legal in specific conditions

According to India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971) was passed to “provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered Medical Practitioners and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”

The conditions under which abortion is allowed are enlisted in the MTP act.

Pregnancy can be terminated upon opinion of 1 doctor before 20 weeks are complete. If pregnancy is to be aborted before 24 weeks, it needs opinion of two doctors

A woman can abort the pregnancy if there is major threat to her life due to childbirth. A woman can also abort the pregnancy if it is found the child will be born with significance physical or mental disabilities.

Under the MTP act, identity of the woman undergoing abortion procedure must be kept confidential. 

The gestation period of 20 weeks can be extended to 24 weeks under these conditions:

  • Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest
  • Minors
  • Change of marital status during the pregnancy (widowhood and divorce)
  • Women with physical disabilities
  • Mentally ill women
  • Women pregnant with a child that has fetal abnormalities that can have a substantial risk of being incompatible with life
  • Women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency

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