Mains Practice Question


Upload you handwritten answers photos in comment section. Our team will check and reach you ASAP.


What is the law on abortions in India? Discuss the recent changes made with reference to the abortions so far.


A Simple Introduction about Abortion laws in India

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP Act) provides a legal framework for terminating pregnancies in India, delineating procedures and conditions under which abortions are permissible. Here's a breakdown of the key provisions:

Three Stages of Pregnancy Termination

The MTP Act allows termination of pregnancy in three distinct stages:

  1. Up to 20 Weeks: Termination of pregnancy within the first 20 weeks is permitted based on the advice of a single doctor.
  2. 20 to 24 Weeks: In cases where the pregnancy is between 20 to 24 weeks, the right to seek abortion is subject to the evaluation of two registered medical practitioners. This exception is granted under specific circumstances outlined in Section 3B of the MTP Act's Rules. These circumstances include cases of statutory rape involving minors, sexual assault, pregnancies in women with disabilities, or changes in marital status during pregnancy.
  3. After 24 Weeks: Beyond 24 weeks of pregnancy, the MTP Act mandates the establishment of a medical board in approved facilities. This board is responsible for evaluating cases involving substantial fetal abnormalities and determining whether termination of pregnancy is warranted. The board has the authority to either permit or deny termination based on its assessment of the situation.
It is the central part of the answer and one should understand the demand of the question to provide rich content.

Recent Changes in Abortion Laws in India

In recent years, India has witnessed significant developments in its abortion laws, particularly concerning the termination of pregnancies beyond the traditional gestational limits. Here are the key updates:

1. Supreme Court Interventions

The Supreme Court of India has played a crucial role in allowing abortions beyond the previously established gestational limits in certain exceptional cases:

  • 14-Year-Old Sexual Assault Victim: In a landmark decision, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud permitted a 14-year-old victim of sexual assault to terminate her nearly 30-week pregnancy. The court deemed this case as "very very exceptional" and emphasized the need to protect the rights and well-being of the girl.

  • Rape Survivor's Pregnancy at 27 Weeks: Another Bench, led by Justice Nagarathna, held a special sitting to grant permission for the termination of pregnancy of a rape survivor, whose pregnancy had advanced to 27 weeks and three days.

  • Recognition of Transformative Constitutionalism: In September 2022, a Bench led by Justice Chandrachud allowed abortion for an unmarried woman who was 24 weeks pregnant and in a consensual relationship. The court invoked the principle of "transformative constitutionalism," highlighting the evolving societal norms and family structures.

2. Revisions to Gestational Limits

India revised its upper gestational limit for legal abortion in 2021, extending it to 24 weeks for specific categories of "vulnerable women." Moreover, the amendments removed gestational limits altogether in cases of substantial fetal abnormalities diagnosed by a medical board.

Implications and Societal Changes

These legal amendments and court interventions reflect a growing recognition of the complexities surrounding abortion laws and the need to adapt to evolving societal norms. By prioritizing the rights and well-being of women, especially in cases of sexual assault or medical complications, India's legal framework aims to ensure greater access to safe and timely abortion services while upholding the principles of justice and dignity for all individuals involved.

The ending of the answer should be on a positive note and it should have a forward-looking approach.

The WHO's guidelines on abortion care reflect a commitment to advancing reproductive rights and promoting equitable access to healthcare services. By advocating for full decriminalization and the removal of restrictive policies, the WHO aims to empower individuals to make informed decisions about their reproductive health while upholding principles of non-discrimination and equality. These recommendations serve as a call to action for policymakers to prioritize the health and well-being of all individuals, regardless of their circumstances or background.


Other Points to Consider 


What is ‘foetal viability’ in abortion?

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971


Previous Year Questions

1. Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss. (2017)

2. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 remains inadequate in promoting incentive-based system for children’s education without generating awareness about the importance of schooling. Analyse. (2022)


22-May 2024