Abortion was legalised with the passage of the MTP Act in 1971. However, even today, every two hours a woman dies from an unsafe abortion. Needless to say, abortion technologies and practices around the world have advanced, making abortion one of the safest procedures. With these amendments, India is trying to leverage this.
My experience of working across the country to reduce maternal deaths and injuries due to unsafe abortion shows that the biggest reason why a woman is not able to access an abortion service in rural areas is due to the absence of a trained physician or specialist. The proposal to allow Ayush practitioners and others to offer early abortion services after adequate training is in line with WHO recommendations. Increasing the gestation limit will address drawbacks in the existing legislation.
While we will need to put in place guidelines and monitoring mechanisms to prevent misuse, there are no reasons to dismiss the amendments themselves. I believe these amendments can make a drastic difference in the lives of the 30-40 lakh women affected by unsafe abortions every year.
Vinoj Manning, Executive director, Ipas Devlp Foundation