Thursday, July 31, 2008

Should abortion laws be changed?

A couple from Mumbai -- Niketa and her husband Haresh Mehta -- have moved the Bombay High Court and have demanded an amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971. The couple have challenged a rule that bans abortions after the 20 th week of pregnancy. 25-week pregnant Niketa and her husband Haresh Mehta have decided to take such a drastic step after they discovered that their unborn child suffers from a congenital heart condition. This implies that if 31-year-old Niketa were to give birth to the child, it would never live a normal life because of a congenital complete heart block.The couple says that they found out about their unborn child's incurable condition on July 22, and in two days they filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking the right to abort their child at this advanced stage. The Mehta’s are the first couple to bring this issue before a court and demand an amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.As per the law, according to the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, abortions are permitted up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Between the 12th and the 20th week, an abortion can be permitted with the consent of two doctors only if the mother or the child faces a fatal risk. However, beyond the 20th week of pregnancy, an abortion can be conducted only if the mother’s life is in danger and not the child’s. A doctor, who conducts an abortion beyond the 20th week for any reason apart from a fatal risk to the mother, can be sentenced to imprisonment of up to seven years.
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