Bombay HC permits 19-year-old to terminate 25-week pregnancy | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Bombay HC permits 19-year-old to terminate 25-week pregnancy

BySahyaja MS
May 31, 2024 08:06 AM IST

Bombay High Court grants a 19-year-old Pune woman permission to terminate her 25-week pregnancy, emphasizing her autonomy in reproductive choices.

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday granted a 19-year-old Pune woman to terminate her 25-week pregnancy, ruling that “the consent of pregnant person in matters of reproductive choices and abortion is paramount.” The court further stated that “the choice to continue a pregnancy to term, regardless of the court having allowed termination of the pregnancy, belongs to the individual alone.”

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HT Image

Justices N R Borkar and Somasekhar Sundaresan recognised and upheld a woman’s autonomy over her reproductive health. The young woman, who sought the court’s intervention due to severe psychological distress, is from a lower-income background and faced social stigma and psychological challenges due to her pregnancy.

The petition, filed on May 27, 2024, stated that the pregnancy resulted from a consensual relationship and not a sexual crime. The petitioner expressed grave psychological distress and social stigma as primary reasons for seeking termination.

She also told the court that if the medical termination procedure fails, resulting in the birth of an infant, she intended to give the child up for adoption through government agencies.

Initially, a private medical report annexed to the petition indicated no abnormalities in the foetus but did not consider the petitioner’s emotional and mental health. The court then directed a comprehensive evaluation by the Medical Board of B J Government Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, Pune. The Medical Board’s assessment, dated May 28, 2024, concluded that continuing the pregnancy could lead to “grave psychological injury” due to the petitioner’s current psychological status and socio-cultural and economic conditions. It also confirmed that she is physically fit to undergo the termination procedure.

The court’s decision drew on from the recent Supreme Court judgements, citing the importance of consent and bodily autonomy of a woman. It rejected arguments that her partner should have a say in the decision, stating, “The role of the RMPs and the medical board must be in a manner which allows the pregnant person to exercise their choice freely.”

Additionally, the court emphasised that Section 3(4)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act provides that no pregnancy shall be terminated without the consent of the pregnant woman, underscoring her right to make autonomous decisions regarding her body.

The ruling also referenced a Supreme Court case, reiterating that no entity, including the state, can override a pregnant person’s consent regarding reproductive choices.

Following this, Sassoon Hospital is instructed to proceed with the termination immediately, ensuring sensitive handling of the woman’s emotional and mental health.

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