The government on Wednesday revised the upper limit for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks for some categories of vulnerable women, PTI reported. The Centre notified new rules regarding this under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021.

The rules will be applicable to women and minors who have suffered sexual assault, rape, or incest.

The regulations will also cover women with mental illnesses and those with disabilities.

Others who are allowed abortions include women pregnant in disaster or emergency situations and whose marital status changes during their pregnancy.

According to the older rules, an abortion that was performed within 12 weeks required a doctor’s consent. To terminate a pregnancy between 12 and 20 weeks, the consent of two doctors was required.

The new rules call for the formation of a state-level medical board to decide if a pregnancy could be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation. The medical board will examine the woman and her reports. It will then provide an opinion on terminating the pregnancy within three days of receiving the request.

The board will also ensure that an abortion is carried out safely within five days of the receipt of the request for termination of pregnancy.

The abortion law had been criticised after it was amended on March 25. Gender and reproductive rights activists have been disappointed as the law gave doctors the final say on an abortion instead of the women who are pregnant.