Can a minor girl get an abortion in India?

A lot of young children have been asking whether they can get access to sexual and reproductive health services.

There were several schemes in the country which provides young adolescents with scope of getting information and services In the adolescent friendly healthy clinics in their city.

Can a minor get abortion?

Things that often get confusing is that even though young people can get abortion, it would be seen a criminal case and often young people get scared of this.

Things that minors should keep in mind :

A minor girl is someone who is below the age of 18 years old.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971, a minor girl needs written permission from her guardian to get an abortion

The MTP Act defines guardian as a person “having the care” of the minor person. Thus an adult, someone over 18 years of age who accompanies a minor girl to a clinic would be De facto guardian and could consent to an abortion on the girl’s behalf.

Things that providers should keep in mind: 

If the girl’s age and/or marital status are uncertain, the providers can proceed with the termination of pregnancy in line with the provisions of the MTP Act after maintaining complete and detailed records of the case.

It is advised to report the pregnancy as per the legal requirement under  Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 and allow the authorities to decide what actions to take.

Editor’s note:

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 

The new Medical Termination of Pregnancy bill 202 was passed in the Lok Sabha in March 2020 and Rajya Sabha in March 2021.
Highlights of the bill: 

  • Currently, abortion requires the opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks.  The Bill allows abortion to be done on the advice of one doctor up to 20 weeks, and two doctors in the case of certain categories of women between 20 and 24 weeks. 
  • The Bill sets up state level Medical Boards to decide if a pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities. All state and union territory governments will constitute a Medical Board.  The Board will decide if a pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks due to substantial foetal abnormalities.   Each Board will have a gynaecologist, paediatrician, radiologist/sonologist, and other members notified by the state government.
  • The Act specifies the grounds for terminating a pregnancy and specifies the time limit for terminating a pregnancy. 
  • Under the Act a pregnancy may be terminated up to 20 weeks by a married woman in the case of failure of contraceptive method or device.  The Bill allows unmarried women to also terminate a pregnancy for this reason.
  • A registered medical practitioner may only reveal the details of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated to a person authorised by law.  Violation is punishable with imprisonment up to a year, a fine, or both.