Bombay HC: Foetus can be aborted if child has severe disabilities

The HC also referred to an order that upheld a woman's right to decide when she wants to reproduce.

Mumbai: The Bombay high court has allowed a woman to terminate her 28-week-old foetus on the grounds that a reading of sections 3 and 5 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act clarifies that when there is absolute surety that the child will suffer from severe disabilities, terminating the pregnancy is valid.

The court also referred to a previous order that upheld a woman’s right to decide when she wants to reproduce.

A division bench of Justices R.M. Borde and R.G. Ketkar were hearing a writ petition filed by the woman, seeking termination of her pregnancy which stood at 26 weeks at the time of filing the petition. She sought permission to terminate the pregnancy based on an ultrasonography report, which revealed several anomalies in the foetus that would result in the child being born with severe handicaps.

Advocate Meenaz Kakalia who appeared for the petitioner pointed out that this would result in mental agony and anguish for the woman and infringe on her liberties. Hence, permission should be granted for aborting the foetus.

While permitting the abortion — also recommended by the medical board of Sir JJ Hospital — Justice Borde said, “When sections 3 (b) and 5 are read together, it implies that if the child is allowed to be born, it will suffer from severe disabilities and this will lead to mental anguish for the child and the mother, too. In such circumstances, termination is permissible before the child is born.”

He also reiterated a previous order of the court which allowed a woman to decide on whether she wanted to continue with her pregnancy, and thus permitted termination of the pregnancy.

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