The Reason Indian Women Are Fighting For Their Right To Abortion Beyond 20 Weeks

Over the past couple of years, a number of cases have been filed in Indian Courts by women, guardians and parents on behalf of their daughters seeking abortions beyond the 20-week legal limit. The main reasons have been –

    • Cases of rape, where women have either not come forward to seek an abortion due to shame and stigma and/or parents of minors have realized too late that their child is pregnant.
    • Prenatal screening that reveals severe anomalies of the fetus beyond the 20-week legal limit.

As a result of these cases, there is a growing conversation about the need to increase the legal limit of abortion up to 24 weeks. In the case of pregnancies that are a result of rape, sexual assault and incest, it is vital that emergency care is provided by doctors in a timely fashion without fear of reprisals – as this is mandated as part of the current law. In the case of people who approach them beyond 20 weeks, the Courts have already directed that permanent Medical Boards be established in States – preferably at the district level for speedy decisions to be taken with regard to abortion provision.

In all the cases described above, it is vital that women and young people below 18 years who need an abortion are able to obtain one without having to petition the Court. This not only causes unnecessary delays but also exacerbates the trauma and shame that women and girls already experience because of the circumstances of their pregnancies.

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