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Bombay HC permits 27 weeks pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy

abortion rights
Date : 09/01/2018

The Bombay High Court, on 9 January, permitted a 27 weeks pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy. The woman’s foetus was suffering from serious fatal abnormalities including absence of the stomach and portions of the brain and heart. The High Court held that the mental trauma that a woman is likely to suffer as a result of carrying such a pregnancy to term would constitute a ‘threat to the life of the woman’.

The Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 permits a pregnancy to be terminated upto 20 weeks provided that the continuation of the pregnancy will lead to mental or physical injury to the woman or if the foetus suffers from such abnormalities that are likely to result in serious handicap.

However, Section 5 carves out an exception to the ceiling of 20 weeks and permits abortions if it is necessary to save the life of the woman. The Bombay High Court held that a purposive interpretation of Section 5 would mean that the ceiling of 20 weeks under Section 3 should be disregarded under Section 5, however, the other provisions as regards threat to the physical and mental health of the pregnant woman and the condition of the foetus must be read into Section 5.

The Court also held that the woman has a right to bodily integrity and a woman’s reproductive choice should be respected and such a right forms a part of personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

HRLN lawyer Meenaz Kakalia argued the case on behalf of the petitioner.

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