The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill to raise the upper limit for permitting abortions from the present 20 weeks to 24 weeks for "special categories of women" including rape survivors, victims of incest, minors and the differently-abled.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 was passed by voice vote. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha about a year ago.
A demand to send the bill to a select committee of Rajya Sabha was defeated by voice vote, along with some other amendments proposed by members.
"The bill as amended is passed," Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh said.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the amendments in the bill have been made after studying global practices and wide consultation within the country.
"Under the leadership of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we will not frame any law which harms women. This is to preserve and protect the dignity of women," he said.
The minister said the suggestions and objections made to the bill by some members were symbolic in nature and aligned with their party ideology.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that in the past decade there were 26 petitions in the Supreme Court and more than 100 petitions in state High Courts to abort at fetal stages. He said that the Union government held consultations and reached out to stakeholders before the bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last year.
He said that the bill will ensure justice and dignity to women who want to terminate their pregnancy.
BJP MP Bhagawat Karad speaking in Marathi said that with Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the maternal mortality rate will reduce.