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  • Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by any method (spontaneous or induced) before the foetus is sufficiently developed to survive independently. (foetus less than 20 weeks of pregnancy)
  • Another definition is the delivery of the baby/foetus that is less than 500 grams

Types of Abortions

Abortions can be classified as either of the following:

  1. Spontaneous
  2. Induced
  3. Pregnancy resulting of rape.
  4. Conditions where the socio-economic status of the mother (family) hampers the progress of a healthy pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child.
  5. Failure of Contraceptive Device irrespective of the method used (natural methods/ barrier methods/ hormonal methods).

(The terms are self-explanatory)

Induced Abortion:

About 30 to 35 million abortions take place annually in the world. More than half of them are illegal and performed by untrained, unskilled persons and done under highly unhygienic conditions.

M. T. P. ACT:

To avoid the misuse of induced abortions, most countries have enacted laws whereby only qualified Gynecologists under conditions laid down and done in clinics/hospitals that have been approved can do abortions. During the 1950s abortion was legalised in Eastern Europe, The Soviet Union and China followed by most of the Western European countries, The United States and few other countries. The world wide process of liberalisation continued after 1980. This is known as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, also known as the MTP act.

The Indian M.T.P. Act

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was enacted by the Indian Parliament in 1971 and came into force from 01 April, 1972. The MTP act was again revised in 1975. The MTP Act lays down the condition under which a pregnancy can be terminated, the persons and the place to perform it.

The reasons for which MTP is done, as interpreted from the Indian MTP Act, are:

Where a pregnant woman has a serious medical disease and continuation of pregnancy could endanger her life e.g.:

Where the continuation of pregnancy could lead to substantial risk to the newborn leading to serious physical / mental handicaps –examples like

  • Chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Rubella (German measles) viral infection to mother in first three months.
  • If previous children have congenital abnormalities.
  • Rh iso-immunisation.
  • Exposure of the foetus to irradiation.

Heart diseases

This condition is a unique feature of the Indian Law. All the pregnancies can be terminated using this criterion.


If married--- her own written consent. Husband’s consent not required.
If unmarried and above 18years ---her own written consent.
If below 18 years ---written consent of her guardian.
If mentally unstable --- written consent of her guardian.
A consent assures the clinician performing the abortion that she:
Has been informed of all her options.
Has been counseled about the procedure, its risks and how to care for herself after she chosen the abortion of her own free will.