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Bombay HC allows special category of women to end 23-week pregnancy

This development comes at a time when the bench was hearing a plea of a 22-year-old married woman, who said she faced domestic violence and continuing to full term may cause her mental strain.

Bombay HC allows special category of women to end 23-week pregnancy
SHARES

In another historic move by the Bombay High Court (HC), the bench on Tuesday, August 3, allowed medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) of a 23-week foetus.

This development comes at a time when the bench was hearing a plea of a 22-year-old married woman, who said she faced domestic violence and continuing to full term may cause her mental strain.

According to reports, the woman had approached the high court seeking permission for MTP on the grounds that “continuing it will cause grave injury to her mental health’’. Her counsel Aditi Saxena said she had been subjected to domestic violence since her marriage in January 2021.

Advocate Saxena argued that the woman became aware of her pregnancy in February 2021, and had decided to continue. But the continuous physical assault by her husband put immense strain on the physical and mental condition which she was unable to bear.

Meanwhile, on June 14, the 22-year-old’s husband struck her on the stomach which was the crowning blow, necessitating immediate medical treatment. However, due to wanting of further medical and legal advice, financial constraints and pandemic, she could not immediately undergo the MTP in June.

On July 23, the court had directed a medical board from JJ hospital to examine her. The court also heard state lawyer Uma Palsuledesai and Centre’s advocate Purnima Awasthi. After taking an overall view of the matter, the bench granted liberty to the woman to immediately undergo the MTP at R N Cooper hospital.

A bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Madhav Jamdar said declining permission would be tantamount to compelling her to continue with her pregnancy. However, in these circumstances, it will not only become extremely burdensome and oppressive on her but has the potential to cause grave injury to her mental health.

As per the medical board, the woman was diagnosed with mixed anxiety and depressed mood in July, much after the pregnancy was confirmed. However, no abnormality is detected in the foetus and the mother has no medical or pregnancy-related issue.

After this, Central counsel told the high court that the MTP (amendment) bill for increasing the legal bar for MTP from 20 to 24 weeks for a “special category of women” was passed by both Houses of Parliament. However, a final notification is awaited.

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