Doctor can abort over 20-wk pregnancy to save woman’s life: Bombay High Court

A registered doctor can terminate a pregnancy that has crossed the 20-week period without permission from the court only if it poses risk to the woman’s life, the Bombay High Court has ruled.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and M S Sonak in its judgement on Wednesday, however, said permission from either the HC or the Supreme Court will have to be sought when a pregnancy has exceeded 20 weeks and the woman feels its continuation would involve risk to her or the foetus’ mental/ physical health.

The bench also directed the Maharashtra government to constitute medical boards at district levels within three months to examine pregnant women, who wish to terminate their pregnancy after it has crossed the 20-week period.

Under provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, a pregnancy that has crossed the 20-week period cannot be terminated.

The bench in its order noted that there has been an increase in number of pleas in the high court by women seeking to terminate pregnancy either on grounds that the foetus developed abnormalities or because continuation of the pregnancy was causing mental or physical anguish.

The bench said high courts can permit women to undergo medical termination of their pregnancy in contingencies even though its length may have exceeded 20 weeks.

“In cases where a registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that termination of pregnancy, which has exceeded 20 weeks, is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, there is no necessity for even seeking any permission,” the court said.

“Thus, if a doctor is of the opinion that if the pregnancy is not medically terminated immediately the woman may die, then it is the duty of such a doctor to undertake the termination process and the MTP Act provisions will afford immunity to such doctors,” it said.

The bench said permission from HC will be necessary if a woman seeks to medically terminate her pregnancy not on the grounds that are not immediately required to save her life, but on grounds like its continuance would involve grave injury to her physical/mental health and/or there is substantial risk that the child when born would suffer from abnormalities.

The court also made it clear that if despite attempts at medical termination of pregnancy the child is born alive, then the doctor and the hospital concerned will have to assume full responsibility to ensure the baby is offered the best medical treatment.

“Though there is a debate as to whether the foetus is a person entitled to rights, there is no debate on the issue that a child born alive is a person, in whom the right to life and personal liberty inheres,” the court said.

“We make it clear that under no circumstances such a child must be neglected or left to perish, particularly where the woman or her family members may not be in a position to or not willing to assume responsibility,” it said.

The court observed that in ideal situations, the instinct of the parents will no doubt take over when it comes to the love and care to be offered to such a child.

“However, in the unfortunate situation where, for several myriad factors, the parents are unwilling or genuinely not in a position to care for the child, then the state government will assume parental responsibility towards such a child,” the court said.

The bench directed the government to frame a policy to address such situations and sought an affidavit of compliance from the state health secretary on July 8.

HC: Cops fail to inform rape victims about option of abortion

Mumbai:  The Bombay High Court today once again said that police must inform the victims in such cases that they have the option of undergoing abortion, allowing a 16-year-old rape survivor to terminate her pregnancy.

A bench of justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni granted permission to the girl to undergo an abortion, after a panel of doctors suggested that it would be safe for her.
The victim, who is 21 weeks pregnant, moved the court earlier this week after her request for the termination of pregnancy was rejected by two government hospitals.

Doctors at the government-run KEM hospital asked her to approach the high court, as an abortion beyond 20 weeks is illegal, except under certain circumstances.

The judges noted that the girl lost five to six days in running from one hospital to another.

“Often (rape) victims and their families do not know that they have the option of medically terminating a pregnancy up to 20 weeks. The state must tell police officers to not waste any time when they are dealing with such victims,” the court said.
“The police must inform them that they have this option and can visit a hospital,” the bench said.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, termination of pregnancy is not allowed beyond 20 weeks, unless its continuation poses a threat to the mother’s life.
During the arguments, advocate Meenaz Kakalia, the victim’s lawyer, had said the girl wanted to undergo abortion as the pregnancy was the result of a rape.
Continuing with the pregnancy would cause her much mental anguish, and being a minor, she must not be forced to give birth, the lawyer argued.
The high court then directed a panel of doctors to examine the girl. After the medical report said that despite the advanced stage of pregnancy, abortion would not pose danger to her life, the court granted the girl’s plea.

In the past, the court has stated in several similar cases that police must apprise rape victims of the option of abortion before it is too late.

SC allows two minor rape victims to terminate pregnancies

SC allows two minor rape victims to terminate pregnancies
SC allows two minor rape victims to terminate pregnancies

The Supreme Court today allowed two minor rape victims from Delhi and Bengaluru to abort their foetus while observing that the medical boards have said termination of pregnancy was permissible in these two cases.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra perused the reports of the medical boards of the AIIMS and Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, where both the minors were examined in pursuance to its orders.

The bench, also comprising Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar, directed preservation of the terminated foetus for DNA sampling during the investigation in both the cases.

As per the medical report from AIIMS, there was no risk involved in aborting the foetus of a 13-year-old girl, who is in her 23rd week of pregnancy.

Similarly, the medical board of the Bengaluru hospital opined that the 24-week-old foetus of the 17-year-old girl can be aborted.

The bench said that medical expense of the process of termination of pregnancy would be borne by the respective states.

Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act prohibits abortion of a foetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Both the rape survivors had approached the apex court seeking its permission to abort their respective foetus.

( Source – PTI )

SC rejects plea for abortion of 10-yr-old rape survivor

SC rejects plea for abortion of 10-yr-old rape survivor
SC rejects plea for abortion of 10-yr-old rape survivor

A 10-year-old rape survivor has lost her legal battle with the Supreme Court refusing to allow termination of her 32-week-old pregnancy, relying on a medical report that it would not be good for her or the foetus.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud yesterday also asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to convey its suggestion to the Centre that a permanent medical board be set up in each state to take prompt decisions in cases where women and girls seek nod for abortion.

The bench perused the report of the medical board set up by the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI), Chandigarh to examine the child and the consequences if the termination of pregnancy was allowed.

“In view of the recommendations made in by the medical board in its report, it would neither be in the interest of the girl child nor the alive foetus, which is approximately 32-weeks-old, to order abortion,” it said.

The court expressed satisfaction on the care being provided to the girl at a government hospital in Chandigarh and said that it was a “fully equipped” to provide the best medical help.

The court, while disposing of the plea, rapped the counsel for the petitioner for approaching the apex court directly without availing the remedy at the high court level.

“The matter was before the district court and you should have gone to the high court, but you directly came to the Supreme Court,” the bench said, adding as the girl was running against the time, it did not pass any order on this issue.

The court then asked the solicitor general, present in the courtroom, to ask the Centre to consider asking states to set up a permanent medical board to take up such cases.

It said that such matters were coming more to the Supreme Court and precious time was being lost in setting up of a medical board for examination.

The solicitor general said that he would convey the court’s suggestion to the Centre and get back to it.

The apex court had on July 24 issued notice to the Centre on the plea seeking its nod for the abortion and had ordered the child’s examination by a medical board consented to by one of her parents.

The PIL was filed after a Chandigarh district court on July 18 refused to let the girl undergo the abortion after it was confirmed that she was almost 28 weeks pregnant.

Courts allow medical termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and can make an exception if the foetus is genetically abnormal.

( Source – PTI )