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Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act: A Critical Analysis of Mother's Right Vis-À-Vis Foetus' Rights

Author: Piyush Mohan Dwivedi, Student, Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala, Punjab, India

ABSTRACT

The amendment in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed by the Lok Sabha on 17th March 2020 where the legislature made two prominent changes. Firstly, the gestation period of 20 weeks is enhanced to 24 weeks to terminate the pregnancy. Secondly, this opportunity can be enjoyed by any person and “its partner” thus the line of married women and unmarried women has vanished. The primary criticism of the bill is based on the Constitutionality of the amendments where the conflict of Article 21 has emerged between the mother and the foetus. The other condemnation is against the equal treatment of married and unmarried women under the same head for abortion. Though several rights are similar in context however if the abortion rights are used at same pedestal they will be used as the birth control method when people are in live-in relationship or any form of casual relationship. Lastly, it is advocated that the foetus has the right to survive which cannot be overlooked by the casual approach of termination of pregnancy bill. It is ascertaining that Courts on various occasions have skipped the 20 weeks law and has harmoniously decided the issues when needed and thus, provided the purposive interpretation instead of the literal interpretation of the Act. The I.P.C., Property Laws, Hindu Succession Act, Motor Vehicle Act etc. and various precedents (on analysis) have recognised the life in a foetus and therefore such life cannot be curtailed unless sufficiently reasoned. Therefore, the various factors are involved while conferring the abortion rights and cumulatively cannot disregard the life of the foetus.


Keywords: Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, Reproduction Rights, Foetus’ Rights, Unwanted Birth, Abortion rights.

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