Abortion in India is legal only up to 20 weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations, which are broadly defined as:
- the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of physical or mental health, or
- there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
The Indian abortion laws falls under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, which was enacted by the Indian Parliament in the year 1971 with the intention of reducing the incidence of illegal abortion and consequent maternal mortality and morbidity.
The MTP Act came into effect from 1 April 1972 and was amended in the years 1975 and 2002.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of India clearly states the conditions under which a pregnancy can be ended or aborted, the persons who are qualified to conduct the abortion and the place of implementation.
Some of these qualifications are as follows:
- Women whose physical and/or mental health were endangered by the pregnancy
- Women facing the birth of a potentially handicapped or malformed child
- Pregnancies in unmarried girls under the age of eighteen with the consent of a guardian
- Pregnancies in "lunatics" with the consent of a guardian
- Pregnancies that are a result of failure in sterilisation
Unsafe abortions are killing a woman every two hours in India (which is approximately 4000 deaths a year), according to estimates and calculations correlating data on maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and Sample Registration System (SRS) data by Ipas, India, an international NGO working on increasing access to safe abortion services.
A Lancet paper in 2007 said there were 6.4 million abortions, of which 3.6 million or 56 per cent were unsafe.
According to The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques(Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Amendment Act, 2002 the following are cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offences
- Conducting or associating or helping to conduct Pre-Natal Diagnostic tests for determining the sex of the foetus.
- Sex selection on a woman or a man or both on any tissue, embryo, conceptus fluid or gametes derived from either or both of them
- Advertisement or communication in any form in print, by electronic media or internet by units, medical professionals or companies on the availability of sex determination and sex selection in the form of services, medicines, or any kind of techniques