The medical boards set up by the court to check if the abortions were safe, pointed out the court the possibility of the foetus surviving.(HT File Photo)
The medical boards set up by the court to check if the abortions were safe, pointed out the court the possibility of the foetus surviving.(HT File Photo)

Bombay HC: Government must look after kids surviving abortion if parents unable to care

In India, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, allows a registered medical practitioner to terminate pregnancies older than 20 weeks only if it poses a threat to the life of the woman.
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By Kanchan Chaudhari
PUBLISHED ON APR 04, 2019 02:23 AM IST

The state must take care of foetuses that survive a medical termination procedure if the parents are unable to care for the child, the Bombay high court (HC) said on Wednesday — a ruling that puts in place a system to ensure the safety of such children. The court also directed the state government to frame a policy to provide medical support and facilities to them.

“While there is 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 with the right to life and personal liberty. We make it clear that, under no circumstance, must such a child be neglected or left to perish,” the bench said.

In India, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, allows a registered medical practitioner to terminate pregnancies older than 20 weeks only if it poses a threat to the life of the woman.

There are chances of a foetus surviving the MTP procedure if the pregnancy is at suc an advanced stage.

The issue came before the division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Mahesh Sonak, which was hearing three petitions filed by pregnant women who wanted to abort advanced pregnancies.

The medical boards set up by the court to check if the abortions were safe, pointed out the court the possibility of the foetus surviving.

In such cases, the judges said, it is the duty of the state to not only to protect the human dignity but to facilitate it by taking positive steps.

“If the child, despite attempts at medical termination of pregnancy, is born alive, then the parents as well as doctors owe a duty of care,” the court said.

While the judges expected the “the instinct of the parents, will no doubt take over when it came to the love and care to be offered to such child”, it added that if, for any reason, the parents are unwilling to, or not in a position to care for the child, the “parens patriae” doctrine will oblige the state to assume responsibility.

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