The Centre informed the Delhi High Court on Tuesday, 6 August, that it has initiated the process for an inter-ministerial consultation on raising to 24-26 weeks, from 20 at present, the gestation period for terminating a pregnancy in case of health risk to the mother or foetus.
In an affidavit placed before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, the Health Ministry said that after taking the comments of the concerned ministries and the Niti Aayog on amending the Medical Termination Pregnancy (MTP) Act, it had in March forwarded a final draft to the Law Ministry for its approval.
However, the Law Ministry had returned the note saying that since both Houses of Parliament have been adjourned sine die, the administrative ministry may, as soon as the new government is sworn in, take a view in the matter after holding consultations with all stakeholders, the affidavit said.
"In view of the above, the administrative ministry has already initiated the process of inter-ministerial consultation for the amendment in MTP Act 1971 and will finalise the same as soon as possible," the affidavit said.
The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL by social activist and lawyer, Amit Sahni, seeking raising of the time limit for terminating pregnancy in case of health risk to the mother or the foetus to 24-26 weeks, from the current cap of 20 weeks.
The petition has also contended that unmarried females and widows too should be allowed to undergo legal abortion.
The Supreme Court, in 2017, had declined to amend the Act which prohibits termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks, saying that the issue fell within the legislative realm.
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