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The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed by the parliament in 1971 with a view to providing for termination of pregnancy by Registered Medical Practitioners for bonafide medical reasons.
The Act extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act was framed mainly due to the following reasons:
- Legal abortions were difficult at that time and many were being carried out illegally under unhygienic or unsafe conditions resulting in harm to the health or life of women.
- As a population control measure since it provided for termination of unwanted pregnancy resulting from a failure of any device or method used by the married woman or her husband for limiting the number of children.
Guardian means a person having the care of the person of a minor or a lunatic.
Lunatic has the meaning assigned to it in Section 3 of the Indian Lunacy Act, 1912.
Minor means a person who, under the provisions of the Indian Majority Act, 1875 (9 of 1875), is to be deemed not to have attained his majority.
A registered medical practitioner means a person who possesses any recognized medical qualification as defined under the Indian Medical Council Act whose name has been entered in a state Medical Register and who has such experience or training in gynecology and obstetrics as may be prescribed by rules made under this Act.
Provisions of the Act
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act provides that, pregnancies of women may be terminated by Registered Medical Practitioners under the following circumstances:
- Pregnancies of women, 18 years of age or more, with their consent or in the case of women who are less than 18 years of age or are lunatics, with the written consent of their guardian.
- A pregnancy that is not more than 12 weeks old and the medical practitioner is of the opinion (formed in good faith) that its continuance is a grave danger to the life of the woman or to her physical and mental health or to the child to be born would be seriously handicapped due to physical or mental abnormalities.
- A pregnancy that is more than 12 weeks but not more than 20 weeks old, provided that not less than two registered medical practitioners are of such an opinion.
- A pregnancy of any duration provided that the medical practitioner is of the opinion that such termination is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman.
- A pregnancy is alleged to have been caused due to rape or due to failure of a contraceptive device used by a woman or her husband for family planning purposes.
Training For an RMP To Terminate Pregnancy
Requirement of Experience or Training For an RMP To Terminate Pregnancy
Any RMP having the following experience/training in the practice of gynecology and obstetrics can terminate a pregnancy under the Act:
- If the RMP was registered in a State Medical Register before the commencement of this Act:
- Experience in the practice of gynecology and obstetrics for not less than three years.
2. If the RMP was registered on or after the commencement of this Act:
- Six months of house surgery in gynecology and obstetrics.
- In case, he has not done any such house surgery, experience gynecology, and obstetrics in any hospital for not less than one year.
- An experience by way of assistance given by the person to an RMP in the performance of twenty-five cases of medical termination of pregnancy in a hospital established or maintained, or a training institute approved for this purpose, by the Government.
Maintenance of Records
Records pertaining to the admissions of women for termination of pregnancy shall be maintained by the head of the hospital or the owner of the approved place, in special registers kept for the purpose. The entries in the register shall be made serially years. The admission register shall be a secret document and the information contained therein shall not be disclosed to any person except as provided under the Act.
However, in the case of an employed woman whose pregnancy has been terminated, the RMP shall grant a certificate on demand in order to enable her to obtain leave from her employer. The employer shall however not disclose this information to any other person.
No entry regarding the name or identity of the woman shall be made in any case sheet, operation theatre register, follow-up card, or any other document or register (except the admission register). Any reference to the pregnant woman shall be made on the basis of the serial number assigned to the woman in the admission register.
Every admission register shall be destroyed on the lapse of five years from the date of last entry in the register. Other papers shall be destroyed on the lapse of three years from the date of termination of the pregnancy concerned unless otherwise directed. The consent given by the pregnant woman regarding the termination of her pregnancy together with the certified opinion of the RMP shall be sealed in an envelope by the RMP. The envelope shall bear the serial number assigned to the pregnant woman, the name of the RMP by whom the pregnancy was terminated, and shall be marked SECRET. The envelope shall be kept in safe custody by the head of the hospital or the owner of the approved place.
Offenses And Penalties
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act by a person who is not a Registered Medical Practitioner is a punishable offense under the Indian Penal Code. Anyone who fails to comply with rules made under the Act or contravenes them may be fined up to Rs.1,000.
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