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No Permission Can Be Given For Termination Of 24 Weeks Old Foetus: Madhya Pradesh High Court

In the case of Asthha Pande v. State of MP & Ors. (W.P. No. 6494/2020), the Madhya Pradesh High Court, through Justice Vivek Rusia, denied a BA student’s appeal to have her 24-week-old pregnancy terminated.

Brief Facts Of The Case: The woman who filed the petition said that she wanted to abort the foetus in order to end a “bad incident” in her life in which her boyfriend, who was also the expecting child’s father, broke up with her.

It is important to remember that Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 specifies that a pregnancy may only be terminated medically before 20 weeks. There are only two circumstances in which an exception may be made, that is if the pregnant woman’s life or her physical or mental health would be seriously harmed by continuing the pregnancy, and if there is a significant possibility that the child would be born with severe physical or mental abnormalities.

Further, the explanations appended thereto state that when pregnancy is brought on by rape, the suffering brought on by such pregnancy shall be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the pregnant woman’s mental health, or when pregnancy is brought on by the failure of any device or method used by any married woman or her husband to limit the number of children, the suffering brought on by such unwanted pregnancy may be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the pregnant woman’s mental health.

Judgement: According to Section 3, Justice Vivek Rusia ruled that the petitioner is not entitled to an abortion. The petitioner merely gives the reason that her boyfriend broke up with her. Future reassociation is possible, but abortion is irreversible is what the court opined. The petitioner claimed a broken relationship at 22-24 weeks, but if she had been contacted earlier, the doctor would have terminated the pregnancy or the court would have allowed it. Given the facts and circumstances, there is no cause for termination of pregnancy. The court cited a landmark Supreme Court judgement in Suchita Shrivastava & Anr. v. Chandigarh Administration, where the Supreme Court allowed a 20-week abortion because the mother was raped. The court ruled that she came under the “severe mental injury” exemption of Section 3 of the MTP Act.

In the present case, the High Court noted that the petitioner at the age of majority had an affair with a boy friend and became pregnant. There is no opinion by the Doctor that termination is required either to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent grave injury to her physical and mental health or in view of the substantial risk that if the child was born it would suffer from physical or mental abnormalities. The court indicated that the petitioner doesn’t fit either (1) or (2).  In both explanations (1) and (2), the lady was not willing for the child or pregnancy from the beginning, therefore it was believed to be a major mental harm. However, in the current instance, the petitioner did not become pregnant by rape or failure of any device or technique. Explanation 2 applies to married women and men. Therefore, there is a total bar for abortion in the petitioner’s instance because the pregnancy has beyond 20 weeks and she does not have a major mental disability, per explanations (1) & (2).

 

 

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY PRAKIRTI JENA

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