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Delhi set to notify women-friendly amendments to MTP Act after 2 yrs delay, AAP govt responds alleging leaking of content (Ld)

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Delhi set to notify women-friendly amendments to MTP Act after 2 yrs delay, AAP govt responds alleging leaking of content (Ld)

New Delhi, Dec 28 (Ajit Weekly News) More than two years since the Parliament amended the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and the Central government’s communication to all states and Union Territories (UTs) to notify these, Delhi is finally on track to notify women-friendly amendments.

Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G) V.K. Saxena has approved the proposal of the Department of Health and Family Welfare for issuance of notifications regarding statutory forms under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021.

The amendments’ aim to ensure universal access for women to comprehensive abortion care and termination of certain pregnancies by Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs).

However, the L-G expressed grave displeasure and surprise at the delayed presentation of the matter for approval, which had been communicated by the Central government in December 2021.

While approving the proposal, Saxena directed the Health Department to investigate the lapses leading to the inordinate delay and assign responsibility and stressed the need for caution in processing such matters in the future.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj issued a statement saying that though the note of the L-G has not reached his office yet, however, like earlier occasions contents of official note have been leaked to the media.

“So my response is based on assumption that media got the contents from some senior government officials working at the L-G office. Though it’s a prevalent practice to leak official notes to media/social media. However, it becomes important because this note must have been written to Chief Minister (Arvind Kejriwal), and he is on a ‘Vipassana’ meditation and not in Delhi, so this note cannot reach its intended recipient in any situation.”

“In an exactly similar situation two days back, the attempt of Delhi Chief Secretary, Naresh Kumar, to intimidate my office staff with threat of suspension, for alleged release of official note to media/social media is laughable,” he alleged.

“At the outset, I would like to state that the displeasure expressed by the L-G is taken in good spirit and it goes further in firming this elected government’s resolve to be ahead of all other states/UTs, including all the states ruled by BJP. In the matter, the Govt of NCT of Delhi is behind just one state i.e Odisha government in issuing notification of the said statutory forms,” Bharadwaj claimed.

The Minister said that the intention of L-G regarding women is commendable and he also assured him regarding the government’s commitment towards providing affordable and quality healthcare for all the citizens.

“In the same spirit , I am awaiting a strong action against Delhi Chief Secreatary Naresh Kumar for not complying to my directions in the matter of alleged Burari hospital sexual harassment. Health, being a state subject, comes directly under the purview of the elected government and with great confidence it is assured that the elected government is equally sensitive towards universal healthcare for all, including women,” he added.

“It appears that L-G has not been informed till date that apart from Odisha, neither any BJP-ruled state nor any non-BJP ruled state has issued notification regarding the revised statutory forms of the amended MTP Act, 2021,” Bharadwaj said.

In 2021, significant amendments were made to the MTP Act, reducing the requirement for opinions from two RMPs to one up to 20 weeks of gestation. For termination of pregnancy between 20-24 weeks, two RMP opinions are needed under special circumstances.

The amended Act also introduced the provision of a medical board for granting permission for termination beyond 24 weeks under circumstances determined by the board. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare communicated to the states and UTs in December 2021, directing them to notify updated Forms I, II and III in the official gazette under MTP regulations.

These forms document the opinions of RMPs, regulations and admission registers related to termination of pregnancies.

The amended Form-I now requires details of only one RMP, replacing the term “Married Woman” with “Woman” and “Husband” with “Partner.” Form II includes additional sub-heads on the duration of pregnancy and bifurcated reasons for termination based on weeks of gestation. Form III, the Admission Register, includes a phrase for pregnancies beyond 24 weeks and requires the mention of medical board members.

The L-G was also apprised that the proposal for notification of statutory forms has been endorsed by the Delhi Health Minister and approved by the Chief Minister.

–Ajit Weekly News

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