A new Bill will be put forward in India which will remove legal safeguards for unborn babies and likely permit abortion up until birth for babies with serious disabilities, in what the Minister for Health is calling “eugenic” abortion.
Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971) abortion is permitted without restriction in India up until the 12th week of pregnancy. Abortion is then permitted up until the 20th week of pregnancy with the approval of two doctors.
An amendment to this Bill is currently being drafted which will aim to increase the availability of abortion and even permit abortion up until birth if the baby has a serious disability.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that the ministry was in the process of finalising the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Draft Amendment Bill, 2019.
The Minister said: “The Ministry [of Health] has proposed to amend the MTP Act, 1971, to… expand access to abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds.”
The move to increase abortion access in India comes at the same time as a series of Bills across the Commonwealth seeking to do the same. In New Zealand and New South Wales, Australia, Bills which make abortion legal up until birth are going through their parliaments, and the Parliament in Westminster has just voted to remove all legal safeguards surrounding abortion in Northern Ireland through to 28-weeks.
Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said:
“It is astounding to hear the Minister of Health speak so candidly about ‘eugenic’ abortion. Eugenic abortions frequently happen in the West but they are rarely characterised as such. For example, approximately 90% of babies in the UK diagnosed in the womb with Down’s syndrome are aborted.”