The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021


The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021, received presidential assent on March 25, 2021, and came into force with effect on September 24, 2021. It amends the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 – which it refers to as the ‘principal Act’. The Act defines the termination of a pregnancy as a “procedure to terminate a pregnancy by using medical or surgical methods.”

The Act extends to the whole of India including Jammu and Kashmir.


  1. What does the Act state about the gestational limits for seeking abortion? 

    Under section 3(2) of the principal Act, this Act makes amendments to state that a pregnancy may be terminated by a medical practitioner if the length of the pregnancy is not more than 20 weeks. Termination till the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy is permissible only if not less than two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion that continuing the pregnancy would risk the life of a pregnant woman or cause “grave injury to her physical or mental health” or, there is a “substantial risk” of the child being born with a serious physical or mental abnormality.


    As per the principal Act, the gestational limits for the termination of a pregnancy by one or at least two medical practitioners were 12 weeks and 20 weeks respectively.

  2. How does the Act define a “grave injury" to the mental health of a pregnant woman which makes the termination of pregnancy permissible? 

    A pregnancy – up to 20 weeks – as a result of the failure of any contraceptive device or method used by “any woman or her partner” is deemed injurious to the mental health of a pregnant woman. As per the principal Act, the right to seek the termination of a pregnancy caused by failure of a contraceptive device or method was limited to “any married woman or her husband.” 

    Pregnancies up to 24 weeks which are “alleged by the pregnant woman to have been caused by rape” also constitute a grave injury to the mental health of a pregnant women and may be terminated under this Act.

  3. How does that Act define a Medical Board? 

    A Medical Board is to be constituted by every state or union territory to exercise “powers and functions” prescribed by rules made under this Act. The Board shall consist of a gynaecologist; a paediatrician; a radiologist or sonologist; and “other number of members” notified through The Gazette of India.

  4. As per the Act, what kind of pregnancies need not adhere to the stipulated limits of 20 and 24 weeks when seeking termination of the pregnancy? 

    The Act states that a pregnancy can be terminated irrespective of the gestational age if a Medical Board upon diagnoses of any “substantial foetal abnormalities” necessitates the termination.

  5. What does the Act state about protecting the privacy of a woman in matters relating to the Act and its enforcement? 

    No registered medical practitioner is allowed to reveal the name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated under this Act. The only exception is if this information is sought by a person authorised by any enforceable law. Violation of this provision is an offence punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, fine, or both.

    Focus and Factoids by Akshita Hazarika.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


Ministry of Law and Justice


Government of India, New Delhi


25 Mar, 2021