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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Woman Puts Bombay HC In A Fix With Her Petition To Abort 28-Week Foetus

  • IWB Post
  •  January 9, 2018

The Bombay High Court is facing a difficult situation as they review a petition filed by a woman and her husband, that asks for permission to abort her 28-week foetus. According to medical records, the unborn child suffers from grave medical abnormalities and if the woman is forced to deliver the child it will have a profound effect on her mental health.

The bench overseeing the case consists of Justice R M Borde and Justice Rajesh Ketkar and both are unable to come to a decision. As per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, a woman who is not beyond her 20-week pregnancy mark can abort her child on the grounds that childbirth will end up being risky for her physical health or life. The Act does not include the effects on her mental health or the termination of pregnancy in case the child would be born with severe abnormalities.

Only if the pregnancy poses a threat to the mother’s life, then exceptions are possible even if the woman has crossed the 20-week mark. In this case, the report submitted by the government-run JJ Hospital in the city said that the foetus has severe brain deformities, its stomach is not visible and that it suffers from severe cardiac abnormalities. But childbirth won’t affect the physical health of the petitioner in any manner.

A bill had been passed in the Parliament in 2014, that covered the concept of mental health risks and substantial foetal abnormalities, as an amendment to the Act but is yet to become a law.

The petitioner’s lawyer Meenaz Kakalia urged the court to understand the “mental anguish and the trauma that will be caused to the woman in forcing her to undergo the pregnancy, and to give birth knowing that the child will be born with life-threatening problems, as akin to the possible harm to her life and her physical being.”

But the bench, bound by laws, expressed its inability to act on the plea. “You prove to us that the threats to the mental well- being of the petitioner is covered under Section 5 of the MTP Act and only then can we allow the plea. Sadly, while the proposed bill provides for the above concept, it is yet to become a law,” the bench said.

The decision on the current petition is most likely to be passed on Tuesday, January 10.

H/T: Hindustan Times


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