Madurai: The Madras high court on Wednesday felt that an amendment was necessary in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The court deemed it fit to extend the abortion period from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.

The Madurai bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar rendered its observation while dealing with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the issue and posted further hearing in the case to June 24.

According to reports, the judges said in case of rape victims, there was a chance of conceiving, and unwanted foetuses can be terminated only if the abortion window period is extended to 24 weeks.

"By this, the birth of unwanted children with stigma which is the result of rape and forced relationships against the wishes of the victims can be avoided. In the interest of the children, women and future generations, the amendment is necessary," the judges said.

The court further said that the doctors are also finding it difficult to diagnose abnormalities in the foetus within 20 weeks as cases are usually reported late, mainly, in the rural areas.

For that, the abortion period should be extended from 20 weeks to 24 weeks, and neonatal care, as well as advanced scan centres, have to be established by the respective state governments as well as the central government, the court said.

Therefore, it is an urgent need for the central government to come out with a time frame by which the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, could be amended as per the proposal drafted in 2014, extending the abortion window period from 20 weeks to 24 weeks, the judges said.

The severe side of the issue is that in the country, thousands of women and children are raped every year, and the number of rapes has only increased. In 2016, about 38,947 women were reportedly raped, whereas the figure was only 18,233 in 2004, the judges said.


(With inputs from PTI)