Yes, it is possible for you to get an abortion under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 if your pregnancy is under 20 weeks. However, it is subject to several conditions and your ability to get an abortion will depend on the opinion of the doctor. The law requires the doctor to assess if these conditions are fulfilled – only then are they legally allowed to perform an abortion. Conducting an abortion without fulfilling the conditions is considered a crime.
Under the law (section 3 of The medical termination of pregnancy Act 1971), the doctor can perform an abortion in the following situations:
It is a crime to get an abortion because you or your family do not want a girl child. If you get an abortion after you come to know the sex of the foetus, you can be punished with jail time of up to three or seven years depending on the stage of pregnancy (Section 312 IPC 1860). However, please remember that an abortion is otherwise legal (subject to conditions mentioned in questions 2 and 3) – it is abortion which follows sex-determination that is unlawful.
It is a crime to conduct any kind of test or procedure (like an ultrasound) to try and make sure the foetus is of a particular sex or to check the sex of your foetus under another law called the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994. Any procedure or technique performed on a man or woman for the purpose of sex-selection is illegal. Any procedure or technique performed on a woman for the purpose of sex-determination is illegal. Since, abortion of female foetuses is high in India, both you and your doctor can be punished for conducting a diagnostic test to figure out the sex of the child. You are only allowed to get such tests or procedures in order to detect certain abnormalities of the foetus or if you are above 35 years of age or if you suffer from certain health specific problems.
You should know that an abortion which does not fulfil the conditions is considered a crime under the general law on crimes in India.
If you are a married person, you should be able to get an abortion if contraceptives did not work and you did not want to have more children. The doctor has a legal duty to assume in such cases that the pregnancy affects your mental health gravely.
The same legal duty does not unfortunately apply to unmarried women. However, please remember that this does not mean that you cannot get an abortion. If the doctor forms an opinion that your mental health will suffer if the pregnancy continues, he or she can perform the abortion.
The doctors have a duty to get your consent in order to perform the abortion. If you are below 18 (a minor) or a person with mental illnesses, the doctors have a duty to get your guardian’s permission as well. If a doctor performs an abortion without your consent, he or she can be punished with a jail term extending up to 10 years and fine.inspection.