The Union Cabinet on Wednesday raised the upper limit for allowing abortions from the present 20 weeks to 24 weeks.

The Union Cabinet has approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

The Bill will be introduced in the ensuing session of the Parliament.

While addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the upper limit for permitting abortions has been extended to ensure safe termination of pregnancies and also give women reproductive rights over their bodies.

“In a progressive reform and giving reproductive rights to women the limit of 20 weeks of medical termination of pregnancy has been increased to 24 weeks,” he added.

The extension to 24 weeks will also help victims of rape, girls with disabilities as well as minors, who may not realize they are pregnant until later, a media report quoted Javadekar as saying.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds.

The proposed amendments include a substitution of certain sub-sections, insertion of certain new clauses under some sections in the existing Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, with a view to increase the upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions and to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care.

In order to increase access of women to safe abortion services and taking into account the advances in medical technology, the union ministry of health and family welfare proposed amendments after extensive consultation with various stakeholders and several ministries.

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