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ABORTION LAWS IN INDIA

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ABORTION LAWS IN INDIA

 

 

Why in the News?

The Supreme Court has referred a case to a larger Bench involving a 26 weeks pregnant married woman seeking abortion citing her inability to take care of the child due to post-partum depression and other health issues.

  • She has two other children.
  • The SC initially agreed to her plea but 2 days later, a two-judge Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and B.V. Nagarathna delivered a split verdict based on AIIMS report that the foetus was viable and had a heartbeat.
  • the case is now referred to a larger bench headed by CJI citing that the highest court of the land cannot overlook the rights of an unborn child.
  • This has ignited the pro-life versus pro-choice debate.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment Act 2021:

  1. The act requires the opinion of one registered medical practitioner for the abortion of a foetus up to 20 weeks of gestation.
  2. Termination of pregnancy from 20 to 24 weeks of gestation would require the opinion of two registered medical practitioners.
  3. Abortions over 24 weeks, in case of suspected foetal abnormalities shall require the opinion of a state-level medical board.

How is the MTP, 2021 different from the earlier 1971 MTP Act?

  1. The upper gestation limit was increased from 20 to 24 weeks by the 2021 act for special categories of women, including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women like differently abled and minors.
  2. Addition of a confidentiality clause:
  • The name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated cannot be revealed except to a person authorised by law. 
  1. Mandate of Marital status removed
    1. The MTP services has been extended to unmarried women under the clause of failure of contraceptive.
    2. This is intended to provide access to safe abortion based on a woman’s choice, irrespective of marital status.

The global trend on abortion laws:

  1. So far, ~60 countries across the world have eased abortion laws to expand the ambit of legal abortion.
  2. Only 4 countries have removed legal grounds for abortion since 1990s. They include,
    1. U.S., (The U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion in 2022)
    2. El Salvador
    3. Nicaragua
    4. Poland 
  3. However, the overall global trend involves liberalisation of abortion laws and increased access to abortion services.

What arguments did SC judges give while delivering a split verdict on the case?

  1. The split verdict was based on a medical report from AIIMS that said that,
    1. The foetus was viable and had a heartbeat
    2. The foetal heart would have to be stopped as part of the procedure or delivering the baby prematurely
    3. This might lead to severe complications both mental and physical for the child.
  2. Justice Kohli delivered the verdict abortion cannot be proceeded as it will stop the heartbeat of a foetus that has life.
  3. Justice Nagarathna differed stating that the petitioner was determined about her decision for abortion which is her rights under Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty), which overrides the MTP Act.
  4. This has triggered a pro-life versus pro-choice debate.
  5. Indian laws do not clearly state whether the foetus is a living being or not.
  6. The CJI-headed bench asked the woman to reconsider her decision to ensure that the child isn’t born with any deformities stating that both rights of the unborn child and woman’s autonomy are important.

THE INDIAN OCEAN RIM ASSOCIATION

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THE INDIAN OCEAN RIM ASSOCIATION

 

 

Why in the News?

Recently, the Indian Ocean Rim Association’s (IORA) Council of Ministers (COM) was held in Colombo under the banner theme of ‘Reinforcing Indian Ocean Identity’.

What is the IORA and how was it formed?

  1. IORA was formed in 1997 as Indian Ocean Region-Association for Regional Cooperation, as a brainchild of former South African President Nelson Mandela.
  2. IORA is an association of 23 countries from Africa, West Asia, South Asia, South East Asia, Australia and littoral states situated in and around the Indian Ocean.
  3. The 23 countries include: Australia, Bangladesh, the Comoros, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the UAE and Yemen. 
  4. There are 11 dialogue partners: China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Türkiye, the U.K. and the U.S. 
  5. The Council of Foreign Ministers, the apex body of the grouping meets once a year, which moves by rotation through members every 2 years. 
  6.  The troika of IORA is within the South Asian region currently, with Sri Lanka took charge as the chair from Bangladesh and India is the Vice-Chair.

Why does the Indian Ocean Region matter?

  1. IOR consists of
    1. A third of the world’s population
    2. 80% of global oil trade
    3. 50% of the world’s containerised cargo
    4. 33% of its bulk cargo passes through it
    5. Produces a combined total of $1 trillion in goods and services
    6. The intra-IORA trade stands at $800 billion.
  2. India’s other regional organisations (SAARC, BIMSTEC, etc., ) have their own challenges.
  3. QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) remains as U.S.-led, along with military allies Australia and Japan. 
  4. China’s active involvement in roping in India’s neighbours in its groupings such as,
    1. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
    2. China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation
    3. China-South Asian Countries Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Centre
  5. Therefore, IORA acts as a “safe space” for India and other countries of the region to keep out the constant challenge of big-power rivalries.
    1. Pakistan, though applied for the membership in 2001, it has not been admitted as it has not extended MFN (most favoured nation) status to India.
    2. Thus, the grouping shall act as a less contentious space for India compared to groupings like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

What does IORA focus on?

  1. The IORA’s seven priority areas include:
    1. Maritime safety and security
    2. Trade and investment facilitation
    3. Fisheries management
    4. Disaster risk management
    5. Academic, science and technology
    6. Tourism and cultural exchanges
    7. Gender empowerment.
  2. The IORA has a special fund of $80,000-$150,000 for project grants to members with a particular focus on climate change. 
  3. The IORA has made free and open sea lane, guarding against piracy and other strategic issues as their integral part of the discussions.

ISRAEL’S MISSILE DEFENCE SHIELD- IRON DOME

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ISRAEL’S MISSILE DEFENCE SHIELD- IRON DOME

Why in the News?

Around 2,200 rockets were fired towards southern and central Israel through a multi-pronged attack by Gaza-based militant group Hamas from land, sea and air, which was shot down by ‘Iron Dome’ defensive shield of Israel.

Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system:

  1. Iron Dome is a short-range anti-rocket, anti-mortar, and anti-artillery system with an intercept range of 2.5 to 43 miles.
  2. It was developed by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems of Israel.
  3. Israel has at least 10 Iron Dome batteries deployed throughout the country, each being designed to defend a 60-square-mile populated area.
  4. Working of the Iron Dome:
    1. Its targeting system and radar first track the trajectory of incoming projectiles.
    2. Then Tamir interceptors will be fired which will only target at those which are likely to land in populated areas or important areas/targets.
    3. In the past, Israel has put Iron Dome’s interception rate at as high as 97%.
  5. In the current Hamas attack and Israeli military options, the interception rate might have degraded given the high number of rockets fired and their launch frequency may have overwhelmed the system.