Delhi HC declines permission to 20-yr-old unmarried woman to terminate 27-week "healthy" foetus

Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court

New Delhi | The Delhi High Court has refused to allow a 20-year-old unmarried woman to undergo termination of her 27-week pregnancy, saying the foetus is healthy and viable and foeticide will not be ethical or legally permissible.

The high court said the medical report of the petitioner woman showed there was neither any congenital abnormality in the foetus nor a potential danger to the mother to carry on with the pregnancy.

“Since the foetus is viable and normal and there is no danger to the petitioner to carry on with the pregnancy, foeticide would neither be ethical nor legally permissible.

“The petitioner would have to be induced to deliver the child and such delivery could be detrimental to the mental and physical health of the newborn since it would be a pre-term delivery. It could also be detrimental to the mother for her future pregnancies,” Justice Subramonium Prasad said.

The high court said it is open for the woman to approach the AIIMS, New Delhi, for delivery and future course of action, if she wishes to, saying it is sure that the premier institute would render all facilities and advise her regarding her pregnancy.

The court also said if the woman is inclined to put the baby up for adoption, she is at liberty to approach the central government which shall ensure that the process of adoption takes place at the earliest and in a smooth fashion.

The court was dealing with the woman’s plea in which she said she was preparing for the NEET examination and sought to abort her foetus under the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

She said on April 16, she felt discomfort in the abdomen and got an ultrasound scan done and it showed she was 27 weeks pregnant, which was beyond the legally permissible limit of 24 weeks.

The woman’s counsel submitted that carrying the pregnancy will cause grave injury to her physical and mental health as she is a student and is unmarried with no source of income.

There will be social stigma and harassment associated with her continuing with the pregnancy which would jeopardise her career and future, the counsel said.

The high court, however, said the woman is already seven months pregnant with a healthy and viable foetus and her prayer for termination of pregnancy cannot be acceded to since her case does not fall within the four corners of the MTP Act.

Under the MTP Act, termination of pregnancy of a duration exceeding 24 weeks can be allowed in case of substantial foetal abnormality as diagnosed by a medical board or if an opinion is formed in good faith for the purpose of saving the life of the pregnant woman.

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