Women may not need permission from HC to abort foetuses with serious abnormalities
Registered medical practitioners can medically terminate such pregnancies, irrespective of its length — although the Medical Termination of Pregnancies Act, 1971, prescribes a limit of 20 weeks for aborting the foetus in such casesmumbai Updated: Jan 15, 2018 13:20 IST
Now, pregnant women may not have to obtain permission from a high court for aborting foetuses having serious abnormalities or pregnancies posing a threat to the mother.
Registered medical practitioners can medically terminate such pregnancies, irrespective of its length — although the Medical Termination of Pregnancies Act, 1971, prescribes a limit of 20 weeks for aborting the foetus in such cases, according to a ruling by the Bombay high court.
In the important ruling, the HC on January 9 interpreted provisions of the 1971 enactment and held that an emergency provision contained in Section 5 of the Act can be invoked if the conditions laid down in Section 3 for abortion were fulfilled.
Under the MTP Act, a pregnancy can be terminated only when a medical practitioner is satisfied that its continuance poses a risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman or when there is a substantial risk that the child would be seriously handicapped. The Act also lays down maximum limit of 20 weeks for the length of pregnancy, thus completely prohibiting medical termination of a pregnancy more than 20 weeks in length.
Section 5 of the Act however, lays down an exception.
On January 9, a division bench of Justice RM Borde and Justice Rajesh Ketkar held that, “It would be logical to conclude that the contingencies referred in Clauses (i) and (ii) of subsection (2)(b) of Section 3 will have to be read in Section 5 of the Act of 1971.”
“The contingencies laid down in Clauses (i) and (ii) of subsection (2)(b) of Section 3 shall therefore equally apply to the request of a pregnant woman seeking permission to terminate the pregnancy beyond 20 weeks and accordingly Section 5(1) will have to be construed, to meet the object and purpose of enactment and to promote cause of justice,” it said.