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Woman who is unmarried and whose pregnancy arises out of a consensual relationship cannot terminate pregnancy beyond 20 weeks: High Court of Delhi

The High Court of Delhi, through learned judge, Justice Subramonium Prasad and Chief Justice in the case of Ms X v Health and Family Welfare Department GNCTD (W.P.(C) 10602/2022) held that women who are unmarried and whose pregnancy arises out of a consensual relationship cannot terminate pregnancy beyond 20 weeks.

BRIEF FACTS: The Petitioner sought interim relief for permission to terminate her pregnancy. The Petitioner, who was 25 years of age,  an unmarried woman was carrying a single intrauterine pregnancy corresponding to gestation age of 23 weeks 5 days. The 24 weeks period of pregnancy, as stipulated under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, will be completed on 18.07.2022. The Petitioner was a permanent resident of Manipur, but she was residing in New Delhi. Her pregnancy was out of a consensual relationship and she cannot give birth to the child as she is an unmarried woman and her partner had refused to marry her. Giving birth out of wedlock will entail in her ostracisation and cause her mental agony. She was solely a B.A. graduate who was non-working and she raised the concern that she will not be able to raise the child. She submitted that she was not mentally prepared to be a mother and continuing with the pregnancy will lead to grave physical and mental injury for her. She further submitted that if she continues with the pregnancy, it will not be possible for her to get married in the future because of her child and ensuing social stigma

FINDINGS OF THE COURT:  A perusal of Section 3(2) (a) of the Act provides that the Medical Practitioner can terminate the pregnancy, provided, the pregnancy does not exceed 20 weeks. Section 3(2) (b) of the Act provides for termination in circumstances where the pregnancy exceeds 20 weeks but does not exceed 24 weeks. A perusal of Section 3 (2) (b) of the Act provides that the said Sub-section is applicable only to those women who are covered under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003. Rule 3B of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003, which permits termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks. The court held that the Petitioner, who was an unmarried woman and whose pregnancy was out of a consensual relationship, was clearly not covered by any of the Clauses under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003. Therefore, the court held that Section 3(2)(b) of the Act was not applicable to the facts of this case and therefore the right to terminate the pregnancy was not granted to the petitioner. 

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – AMRUTHA K

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