• India’s Law on Abortion: The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP Act) regulates abortion in India, delineating the conditions under which termination is permissible.
  • Up to 20 weeks: Abortion is allowed based on the advice of one doctor.
  • 20 to 24 weeks: Abortion is permitted under certain categories with the approval of two registered medical practitioners. These categories include cases of statutory rape, sexual assault, pregnancies in minors, and women with disabilities, as listed in Section 3B of the Rules under the MTP Act.
  • Beyond 24 weeks: A medical board in “approved facilities” must decide on the termination of pregnancy, allowed only in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities.


Recent Changes and Judicial Interventions:

  • The Supreme Court permitted a 14-year-old sexual assault victim to terminate her pregnancy at almost 30 weeks, highlighting the need to protect the victim in “very exceptional cases”.
  • The court has allowed terminations beyond 26 weeks in multiple instances. For example, a special sitting led by Justice Nagarathna approved the termination of a 27-week pregnancy for a rape survivor.
  • In September 2022, a Bench led by Justice Chandrachud permitted a 24-week abortion for an unmarried woman in a consensual relationship, citing “transformative constitutionalism” and acknowledging societal changes in family structures.
  • In 2021, the gestational limit for legal abortion was revised to 24 weeks for specific categories of “vulnerable women”, and the restriction was removed in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by a medical board.


WHO Guidelines on Abortion Care:

  • The World Health Organization recommends the complete decriminalisation of abortion and the removal of grounds-based regulations and gestational limits to ensure non-discriminatory and equal abortion care for all.
  • The WHO advises clinical best practices for safely terminating pregnancies at any gestational age, considering grounds-based restrictions and gestational limitations as “medically unnecessary policy barriers” that lack evidence-based support.
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish July 3, 2024