Doctors in the city warn that the court’s verdict may discourage other couples in similar situations, who may go for ‘unlawful’ abortions instead.
“The couple had sought a legal course for terminating the pregnancy, but didn’t get any relief. When all legal options are closed, couples who are desperate may resort to illegal practices like going to quacks and terminating pregnancies on the sly. We don’t encourage this, as it is extremely dangerous for mothers. But this is a lose-lose situation,” said gynaecologist Dr Mukesh Gupta, who runs Gupta Nursing Home in Malad.
According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 — formed primarily with a view to prevent female foeticide rampant in parts of the country — abortion beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy is strictly prohibited.
Gynaecologists praised the Mehtas for their resilience to fight it out legally even in the last stage. “Most couples do illegal abortions without bothering about the law. This couple should be lauded for taking up the issue without fear of criticism, ” said gynaecologist Dr Aniruddha Malpani, who has his Dr Malpani Clinic in Colaba.
“Though no law-abiding gynaecologist would practice illegal abortions, we do know it happens. It should definitely end. But in exceptional cases, where the child’s quality of life may be compromised or when the family faces financial burden, the law should allow exceptions. Or else, people will resort to illegal abortions after 20 weeks, as many couples do now,” said Dr Hrishikesh Pai, infertility specialist at Lilavati Hospital.