Set up medical boards at govt, civic hospitals for late-abortion seekers: Bombay HC

Published on Sep 21, 2018 04:56 AM IST

The court was hearing a petition filed by a teenaged rape survivor from Satara, seeking permission to medically terminate her pregnancy which resulted from the sexual assault on her.

Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByKanchan Chaudhari

The Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday directed the state to consider setting up permanent medical boards at government and civic hospitals in major cities across Maharashtra to examine women seeking permission for medical termination of their pregnancies advanced beyond the 20-week limit set by the Medical Termination of Pregnancies Act, 1971.

“We are not saying medical boards should be set up everywhere, but see if it is possible at least in major cities,” a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Mahesh Sonak told government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani.

The court was hearing a petition filed by a teenaged rape survivor from Satara, seeking permission to medically terminate her pregnancy which resulted from the sexual assault on her. She said “continuation of pregnancy will constitute injury to her mental health and if she is compelled to give birth, it will cause life-long mental trauma for her”.

Acting on her plea, the court had on September 4, directed the dean of BJ Government Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital at Pune to create a special medical board to examine the rape survivor and submit its report to the court.

On September 10, the court rejected the petitioner’s plea for permission to terminate her pregnancy after the board said the pregnancy was advanced and “medical termination at 27 weeks carried a significant risk” to the life of the petitioner.

The court had however, kept the petition pending to ensure financial assistance is made available to the survivor under the Manodhairya Scheme. The bench on Wednesday said that permanent special medical boards can be easily set up in cities where there are government-run medical colleges.

It asked Vagyani to espouse the possibility of creating such boards in civic hospitals in Mumbai as the number of regular patients in major government hospitals here, like JJ Hospital and KEM Hospital, is huge and the doctors at these government hospitals find it difficult to form special medical boards on urgent basis.

The bench said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) runs some big hospitals, like Cooper hospital, where such boards can be set up to reduce the pressure on government hospitals in the city. “Even otherwise, in Mumbai, the cases are on the rise,” the judges said.

Vagyani informed the bench that the District Legal Aid Authority has sanctioned 30,000 as immediate financial help for the pregnant teenager and the authority has started processing report from the concerned police station for regular financial aid to her.

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