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Rajya Sabha passes Termination of Pregnancy Bill with voice vote

Replying to the debate on the Bill, the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the lack of doctors especially in rural areas could be a hurdle in implementation of the law. "Internationally, also this law is progressive," he said.

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New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 with voice vote.

Replying to the debate on the Bill, the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the lack of doctors especially in rural areas could be a hurdle in the implementation of the law. “Internationally, also this law is progressive,” he said.

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Responding to the demand to send the Bill to select committee, the Minister said that extensive consultations were made before bringing the Bill and also said that the confidentiality of the women has been properly taken care of under the legal provision.

Noting that this Bill will ensure dignity, autonomy and justice to women who want to terminate the pregnancy, Dr Harsh Vardhan said “This amendment is not for the routine abortions, these are for special circumstances. The Opposition is only doing symbolic opposing,” he said.

Earlier, while introducing the Bill in the House today, he said that India was one of the first countries to legalise abortion. It was in Sept 1964, the then government had set up a committee to legalise the abortion. Based on their recommendations in 1971 this act came into being. Before 71, both the abortion seeker and those conducting the operation were liable under the law, he added.

“In the last one decade, there has been several writ petition seeking permission to abort at fetal stages. There have been 26 petitions in SC and more than 100 petition in state High Courts. We held extensive consultations with all stakeholders.” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

Initiating debate on this Bill, Congress lawmaker Amee Yajnik said that in1971 when the parent legislation was brought, it was a progressive bill back then. And now 50 years later this amendment bill has brought in. We welcome the bill. But there are certain lacunae while another Congress Member Pratap Singh Bajwa said that it should be sent to the Select Committee for wider consultation.

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