Bombay HC allows a woman to terminate her 28-weeks old pregnancy

January 11, 2018

Bombay High court has allowed a Mumbai based woman to abort her 28-weeks old foetus, after the doctors found out that it has severe mental abnormalities. The court took into consideration the mental trauma that the woman was likely to suffer and hence granted the permission to terminate her pregnancy.
According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, a woman is allowed to terminate her pregnancy within 12 weeks of getting pregnant provided she gets permission from a registered medical practitioner. The woman can also terminate her pregnancy beyond the period of 12 weeks but not exceeding 20 weeks with the consent of two medical practitioners. The Parliament is, however, considering to extend the legally permissible period to end the pregnancy to 24 weeks.

Making an exception to the current law, a bench of Justices  R M Borde and Rajesh Ketkar ruled that though the MTP Act does not provide for consideration of the woman's mental health and foetal abnormalities after the 20-week period, courts must make an expansive reading of its provisions. 

Advocate Meenaz Kakalia, representing the woman, in this case, argued that if the abortion is not allowed then not only the child born will suffer from abnormalities but it will also cause much mental trauma to the woman, thereby infringing her constitutional right to life.
The court hence held that it would not be right to ask the woman to continue with the pregnancy, considering that the child, once born, will have to battle life-hampering disabilities. The court further said that the present decision is also in consonance with the proposed amendments to the MTP Act.

The court has passed the order despite the report of the board of doctors from JJ Hospital which stated that the foetus has severe brain and cardiac deformities and that its stomach was still not formed. However, the doctors maintained that the pregnancy and delivery will not pose any risk to the woman’s physical health or life. The bench cited several similar judgments of the Supreme Court and other High Courts that allowed abortions beyond the period of 20 weeks and said that it will go beyond the definition of health and life of the woman and the risks the pregnancy poses as defined under the law. 


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