Bombay HC grants permission to Doctors to medically terminate a pregnancy if a mother's life is in danger

The Bombay High Court pronounced Landmark directions this Wednesday after hearing cases related to women seeking permission to medically terminate their pregnancy, it is to be noted that length of their respective pregnancies had exceeded the mark of 20 weeks.

The Hon’ble bench held that a registered medical practitioner is permitted to terminate pregnancy exceeds 20 weeks only when he/she thinks that termination of pregnancy is the immediate solution in order save the life of the pregnant woman, without permission from the High Court.

The court further stated that if attempts are made to medically terminate the pregnancy in good faith and still the child is born alive. The State will be responsible if the parents of such child are not willing to or are not in a position to raise the child.

Despite the fact, the court had given orders on termination of their respective pregnancies, the petitions were kept pending as the issues raised in the petitions were important and required attention.

After studying the judgments given by the Supreme Court of India, the bench noted that the Supreme Court has understood the provision in Section 5 of the MTP Act liberally by adopting purposive construction. The apex has permitted medical termination constantly of pregnancies exceeding the time period of 20 weeks where the doctors were of opinion that continuance of pregnancy involved grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman or if the child is born he/she may suffer such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. This happened despite there was no immediate danger to the life of the pregnant woman.

Thus, the Court held that a registered medical practitioner may medically terminate a pregnancy exceeding 20 weeks without taking permission of the Court only when there is an immediate danger to the life of the mother. In any other circumstance, permission of the High Court is mandatory.

In addition, the court asked the State to constitute medical boards in each district in order to examine such cases and also focus on providing facilities related to health and hygiene of women in rural areas.

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