Bill to increase current gestational age for Medical Termination of Pregnancy to 24 weeks approved

Stop Thalassemia

29 Jan 2019 Press Information Bureau - Government of India: The Union Cabinet has approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The amendment has increased the current limit of 16 weeks for termination of pregnancy to 24 weeks of gestation. The bill also proposes not to have an upper gestation limit in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by Medical Board. The composition, functions and other details of Medical Board are to be prescribed subsequently in Rules under the Act. The bill will be presented in the upcoming session of the Parliament.

Although it is possible to screen the foetus for blood disorders like thalassemia, a major challenge has been the identification and screening of at risk pregnancies in time. Screening on time gives the family the choice to have affected foetus terminated. Many families report new pregnancies only after the first trimester. The sample from the foetus is taken by experts predominantly in major cities (Chorionic villus sampling).The report then take a few weeks to come back. In Sankalp India Foundation's experience, there were cases where the reports came back after legal allowed time for termination of pregnancy was over. This bill brings a huge relief in that context.

In India, we continue to see an estimated 12,000 new births with thalassemia each year. Prevention is the most meaningful response to inherited blood disorders. Sankalp India Foundation with all its partner organisations firmly believes that universal screening of pregnancies for blood disorders must be enforced - in order to achieve a Thalassemia Free India. In that context, this proposed bill will give a longer window of opportunity to screen the pregnancies and provide longer window to the family to make informed choice.

Patrika Section