Women have special powers to produce a human being. Pregnancy is one of the most important times for a woman where she gives birth to the baby after carrying him for nine long months in her womb. During an unfortunate event, she loses the child to miscarriage. Sometimes, they chose to abort the baby due to certain reasons but doctors allow abortion only in justifiable conditions. Legal abortions have a limit of 20 weeks(amendments in the MTP or Medical Termination of Pregnancy bill have been proposed to increase the limit to 24 weeks in special cases).
What Is Abortion- INTRODUCTION
Abortion is a term that defines the process of terminating the pregnancy and aborting the fetus inside the womb. There are two types of abortion: induced and spontaneous. If the termination process is done intentionally to terminate the pregnancy either through pills or surgery, it is called induced abortion. If the abortion is spontaneous and happens before 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is called a miscarriage.
Abortions are safe to be done in the first and early second trimester of pregnancy. Abortions can either be done medically or surgically. It depends on the medical condition of the mother and how many weeks pregnant she is to find the apt abortion method.
Abortions done before 12th week or in the first trimester are safer than abortions after 12th week which is second-trimester abortions are infrequent. If a woman has to terminate her pregnancy after the 13th week, she has to get permission from a certified and experienced medical practitioner who has experience of conducting such type of abortions and handling the possible complications after the process to ensure the wellbeing of the mother. Doctors, generally do not allow aborting the baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy but it can be sone in some cases such as if there is a threat to the mother’s health or deformity of the fetus.
Abortion is a totally personal decision which should be performed only after the consent of both the partners. Both abortion and miscarriage leave a long-term effect both physically, mentally and emotionally. It is important to first know about the procedure and then proceed.
Types of abortion
There are two types of abortion: Medical and In-clinic. Medical abortion or chemical abortion or abortion through pills is done with oral medication prescribed by the doctor to terminate an early unwanted pregnancy. In-clinic abortion, on the other hand, is done in a hospital or clinic under strict medical supervision. Both of these methods are completely safe if done correctly.
This process is similar to a miscarriage where you consume drugs or abortion pills to force your uterus to release the pregnancy tissue without any surgical intervention. This method is most effective if done early.
As soon as you consult the doctor and express your wish to abort the child, he will conduct a medical exam and then prescribe pills. In most cases, two sets of medicines are given for chemical abortion which usually gets over in 24 hours.
This is a surgical process where a certified doctor removes the fetus from the mother’s womb through gentle suction. This has a 99% success rate with minimal side-effects.
After you decide upon the process, you’d require to make an appointment with the doctor who’d be doing the surgery. The total procedure may take up to 15 minutes to one hour depending upon the condition.
Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971, if the pregnancy is under 20 weeks, abortion is considered legal. However, certain deciding factors are assessed by a doctor whether or not abortion is safe for a particular case. Only then, abortion is allowed legally. If these conditions are not fulfilled, abortion is considered a crime.
Conditions for Abortion
As per the law (section 3 of The medical termination of pregnancy Act 1971), here are some conditions which need to be fulfilled then the only doctor is allowed to perform an abortion:
Abortion Laws In India
Talking about the initial days when abortion was given a term, it was considered as a crime under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code 1860. at that time, abortion was defined as causing miscarriage intentionally which was criminalized. However, some exceptions were there such as if the step is taken to save someone’s life which was at risk due to the pregnancy. The guilty was supposed to be given a jail term of up to seven years including the pregnant woman who underwent the procedure.
In the late 1960s when abortion became legal in 15 countries, the Indian law initiated the process to prepare a legal framework for abortion. Due to the increased cases of abortion, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) got alert and in 1964, the government formed a committee to draft abortion law. After 6 years in 1970, the abortion bill titled as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill was proposed and it got passed as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act a year later in 1971.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
The main point of this bill was the legalization of abortion for up to 20 weeks of gestation. The details are given here:
The MTP Act contains everything from eligibility for terminating a pregnancy to a legal period of termination to the approved places for conducting abortion to punishment for illegal procedure. The act gives the government the right to take legal action against someone who is found guilty to violate the rules.
MTP Amendment 2020
Very recently, the Ministry of Health proposed certain amendments to the MTP Act. Some of them were highly needed for special cases.
The government has proposed to increase the upper limit for abortion to 24 weeks from 20 weeks for special cases. These special cases include rape survivors, incest survivors, mentally-challenged women, etc.
They have also proposed removing the legal abortion limit for cases with a high risk of fetal abnormalities. These relaxations are offered to better the legal abortion system and help women lead a healthy life.
Another awaited amendment in this act is allowing all women whether married or unmarried to legally abort their pregnancy which was not possible until now.
The upper limit is raised to 24 weeks but in such cases, multiple doctors need to verify the condition and only after that the termination can be done.
Punishment for Illegal Abortion
As stated above, abortion done dodging the legal rules is considered as an illegal offence according to the law in India.
There is a provision of jail for up to 3 years for aborting pregnancy of more than 20 weeks.
On aborting a 5-month fetus, the punishment is higher with up to 7 years of jail term along with heavy fines. If the fetus is moving(the process is called quickening) abortion is not considered legal.
Abortion without the consent of parents is also illegal. If anyone does so without your permission or forces you to undergo an abortion, that person is liable to be punished with 10 years jail and fine.
An abortion that causes death. If the mother dies during the procedure and if that process is carried without the consent of the person, the person who conducted the procedure can be jailed for a lifetime.
Deliberately causing fetal death is also a crime under the Indian Penal Code where the accused can be jailed for up to 10 years.
Is Abortion Due to Failed Contraception Legal?
There are cases when women get pregnant due to the ineffectiveness of contraception. In such cases, married women are permitted to abort the baby if they are not willing to have more children. These cases come under the special act where pregnancy can gravely affect the mental health of the mother and therefore, the doctor is allowed to terminate it.
This option is, however, not there with unmarried women. But, if the doctor agrees to the fact that continuing the pregnancy would pose mental health issues on the woman, abortion would be considered legal. But for that, they need the consent of their guardians to proceed legally.
Effect of abortion on the mother’s health
Abortion in the first and early second trimester is safe and doesn’t have any downsides unless it is a complicated pregnancy. It is a myth that abortion would hamper the ability of reproduction and that you won’t conceive in the future. There is no harm to your health if the termination is done on time following all the guidelines.
Another myth is that abortion may cause breast cancer which is absolutely false. Also, this won’t put you into depression either. All of these rumours about infertility, cognitive decline, cancer, etc. are not to be believed. In some cases, women get quickly pregnant after abortion, in contrary to infertility. If you are not willing to conceive anytime soon, consult your doctor about the possible birth control methods after abortion.
Risks of Abortion
Abortion is a medical procedure and just like all procedures, there are certain complications and risks associated with this procedure too. Here are the possible health complications of termination of pregnancy:
After abortion care tips - RISK PREVENTION
Here are a few after-care measures that are needed to be taken for the speedy recovery and reduce health risks.