Is abortion a legal practice in India? Exploring the reasons, myths and regulations related to it

As per the latest law in India, abortion can be done from 20-24 weeks of pregnancy.

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In September 2021, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act allowed licensed medical professionals to perform abortions in specific predetermined situations.

Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by removal or expulsion of an embryo or foetus. An abortion that occurs without any intervention, on its own is called spontaneous abortion or miscarriage. But if the abortion is induced with medicines or is done surgically, it is known as medical termination of pregnancy (MTP).  Earlier, Abortion law banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy but now abortion can be done from 20-24 weeks of pregnancy. Most women don’t even detect pregnancy until six weeks.

Abortion is done by using medicine or by doing surgery to remove the embryo or the foetus and the placenta from the uterus. All women have the right to safe and legal abortion. Abortion is not anti-life or murder.  Unwanted pregnancies are a reality of life as of failed birth control or rape.

Why do women choose Abortion?

  • Unforeseen economic situations: Women choose to abort its child due to unexpected financial difficulties.
  • Social conditions: Pressure from family and community can change women’s decision to seek an abortion.
  • Job loss: Loss of job leads to financial instability, economic crisis due to which a woman might not want to raise the child and opt for abortion.
  • Death of partner: The loss of a partner can leave a woman without emotional and financial support, prompting the decision to terminate the pregnancy.
  • Threat to her Health: If a pregnancy poses significant risks to a woman's physical or mental health, she might opt for an abortion to safeguard her well-being.
  • Unready for pregnancy: Women who feel unprepared for the responsibilities of motherhood, whether due to age, life stage, or other personal reasons, may decide to have an abortion.

In India, abortion is legal under specific circumstances. Abortions are performed in cases where continuing the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s physical or mental health or if the pregnancy was the result of a rape.  While the law guarantees every Indian woman the right to choose, society often restricts that choice.

Myths about abortion:

  • The foetus feels pain: Fact: The foetus can only start feeling pain or any other sensation around 26 weeks of pregnancy. The upper limit for abortion is 24 weeks.
  • Abortion causes depression: Fact: women who are denied abortion are more likely to be depressed.
  • Reduces fertility: Fact: there is no evidence regarding this.