The first provision for the termination of pregnancies was in the Indian Penal Code formulated in 1860 by the British Rulers in accordance with the British Law on the subject. Under the supervision abortion was deemed to be a crime for which the mother as well as the person doing the abortion were culpable except when it was done to save the mother’s life. This law was very strict but was breached to a very appreciable extent.
Hence, in view of the expansion in the medical services throughout the country and to avoid the risks to the mother’s health, it was considered fit to liberalize the law regarding abortion specially keeping following background in mind:
- Humanitarian aspects like when pregnancy arises due to sex crime such as rape, intercourse with lunatic woman etc.
- Health aspects when pregnancy poses grave risk to the life or physical or mental health of a woman.
- Eugenic aspects where the child to be born is likely to have deformities or serious defects.
TERMINATION OF PREGNANCIES
The act provides the pregnancies may be terminated by Registered Medical Practitioners(RMP) possessing experience or training in the Gynaecology & Obstetrics in accordance with the following provisions:
- If the length of pregnancy does not exceed 12 weeks and the medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that continuance of pregnancy involves risk to the life of the woman or poses a grave danger to her mental or physical health or the child to be born is likely to be seriously handicapped due to any physical & mental abnormality. The pregnancies caused due to rape or failure of any family planning devices used by the woman or her husband may be deemed to be posing grave injury to the mental health.
Medical practitioners registered before the commencement of the Act should have at least 3 year experience in gynaecology & obstetrics. Medical practitioners registered after the commencement of the Act must have completed at least 6 month’s house surgery in gynaecology & obstetrics or have at least 1.5 year experience or have assisted a RMP in at least 25 cases of termination of pregnancy or hold PG in Gynaecology & Obstetrics.
- The pregnancy is terminated with the written consent of the woman if she has attained the age of 18 years. If the woman is minor or lunatic(as defined by the Lunatic Act, 1972) the pregnancy can be terminated only with the written consent of her guardian.
- Where the length of pregnancy exceed 12 weeks but not exceed 20 weeks, it can be terminated only at least two RMP are of the opinion that termination is essential as discussed above.
- The pregnancy have to be terminated only at a hospital established or maintained by the Government or a place approved by the Government for this purpose. No place shall be approve for the purpose until safe and hygienic conditions prevail theirin and it has an operation table and other accessories, drugs etc necessary for surgery such approved places are liable to be inspected by CMO of the district.
- The prescribed forms for the consent, opinion of RMP etc used should be kept in safe custody and sent to head of the hospital.
Offences and Penalties
The termination of pregnency by a person who is not a registered medical practioner shal be deemed to be a punishable offense under Indian penal code.