The National Commission for Women (NCW) has recommended to the Union health ministry that the medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) be allowed up to 24 weeks. This will only be allowed in certain cases — if the foetus has abnormalities, if the pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk, or the pregnancy is the result of rape.
At present, while any woman can terminate her pregnancy up to 12 weeks, from the 13th to the 20th week, an MTP requires medical assent. After week 20, MTP is not permitted under any circumstance. What this means is that most women carry out health checks on the foetus in the 18th week and MTP is carried out if any abnormality is noticed.
Modern diagnostic technology now allows even better detection of abnormalities in the later weeks. Once such abnormalities are found, parents are keen to undergo an MTP. This is what happened in the case of Nikita Mehta, who at 24 weeks found that the foetus had a heart defect. She wanted an abortion but the law did not permit it (she later miscarried).
At that time, it was said that countries such as the UK permit MTP up to 24 weeks and India should do the same. In this day and age, families seek to have just one or two children. The government should implement the recommendation in order to allow them to have normal children.