HC allows woman living separately from husband to terminate 23-week pregnancy

HC allows woman living separately from husband to terminate 23-week pregnancy

New Delhi, Oct 19 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Thursday permitted a woman living separately from her husband and desirous of filing for divorce to terminate her 23-week pregnancy.

Justice Subramonium Prasad noted the medical board of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has opined that the foetus was normal and it was safe to terminate the pregnancy.

The high court was hearing a plea by a 31-year-old woman, who said she has separated from her husband and therefore, does not want to continue with her pregnancy.

The woman, represented by advocate Amit Mishra, approached the high court seeking permission to terminate her pregnancy of 23 weeks and four days, as of date, under the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

The court had earlier asked the AIIMS to constitute a medical board to consider whether it would be safe for the woman to end her pregnancy and to examine the condition of the foetus.

The high court had impleaded the woman's husband as a party to the petition. On Thursday, the woman and her husband were present in the court.

While the woman said she does not want to live with her husband and it was tough for her to take the decision to terminate her pregnancy, the man stated he wanted to live with her and tried reconciliation but failed.

The court was also informed that the woman has now filed a complaint against her husband with the crime against women cell of the city police.

It was the woman's case that she got married in May this year and in June she came to know about her pregnancy. She alleged in the plea that she was being tortured and abused verbally, physically, mentally and emotionally by her husband at her matrimonial home.

The petition said her husband physically assaulted her in July and repeated it in August when she was pregnant, after which she returned to her parental home.

The high court referred to a previous judgement of the Supreme Court which said it is the prerogative of each woman to evaluate her life and arrive at the best course of action in view of the change in material circumstances.

"The apex court was of the opinion that change in material circumstance may result when a woman separates from her partner and she may no longer have the financial resources to raise the child.

“The apex court has included the cases of domestic violence perpetrated on a woman under Rule 3B(c) of the MTP Rules wherein a woman is permitted to terminate her pregnancy up to 24 weeks on the grounds of change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy. The Apex Court has held that the right to reproductive autonomy is closely linked with the right to bodily autonomy,” the high court noted.

The high court had earlier noted that the woman has not filed any FIR against her husband complaining of physical abuse nor any petition for divorce or judicial separation from her husband.

It noted the Supreme Court has held that the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy on a woman's body as well as her mind cannot be understated and, therefore, the decision to carry the pregnancy to its full term or terminate it is firmly rooted in the right to bodily autonomy and decisional autonomy of the pregnant woman.

The high court perused Section 3 of the MTP Act which provides for termination of pregnancy by registered medical practitioners.

It said this section prescribes that a pregnancy which does not exceed 20 weeks can be terminated by a registered medical practitioner if he is of the opinion that continuance of pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or grave injury to her physical or mental health or there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.

Rule 3(B) of the MTP Rules permits a woman to terminate her pregnancy up to 24 weeks with certain conditions. PTI SKV SK SK

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)
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