A bill to extend the upper limit for permitting abortions from 20 to 24 weeks was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday, PTI reported.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan introduced the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, amid protests by Opposition members over the violence in North East Delhi that claimed 46 lives.

The bill was approved by the Union Cabinet in January to ensure safe termination of pregnancies and give women reproductive rights over their bodies.

“Enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women which will be defined in the amendments to the MTP Rules and would include ‘vulnerable women including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women [like differently-abled women, Minors] etc’,” a press release had said.

In September 2019, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that the right to reproductive autonomy did not outweigh the state’s interest in protecting the life of a foetus. The Centre argued that the 20-week limit cannot be extended in a blanket manner.

“It is a settled law that personal freedom of choice of an individual cannot curtail the freedom or choice of other individuals, specially the most vulnerable and persons who are defenseless,” the affidavit added. “Unborn child cannot protect itself from the harm designed by his/her very own mother.”

The petitioners sought to extend the ceiling to 26 weeks.

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