Denial to terminate a 24 week old foetus- Madhya Pradesh High Court

by Anirudh Wadhwani
On 2nd April, 2020 the Honorable High Court of Madhya Pradesh, gave a judgment against a
woman asking for the termination of her 2 week foetus. The woman is a student in Bachelor of
Arts field and recently her boyfriend, also the biological father of the unborn, broke up with her.
She approached the court for the permission to terminate her womb’s foetus, due to the legal
claim that she is mentally damaged by it. But the court denied the same on the grounds that it is
independent of the fact whether her boyfriend breaks-up with her or stays because it is already
way past the acceptable period of 20 weeks to allow a miscarriage.
As per Section 3 of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, the time limit for termination
of an unborn foetus is 20 weeks. But there are certain exceptions to this limit. The exceptions are
listed below:

  1. Continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or
    of grave injury to physical and mental health.
  2. There is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such mental
    and physical abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
    The explanation is further provided to be:
  3. Where pregnancy is caused by rape, the anguish caused by such pregnancy shall be
    presumed to constitute grave injury to mental health of pregnant woman.
  4. Where any pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of device or method used by any
    married woman or her husband for purpose of limiting number of children, the anguish
    by such unwanted pregnancy may be presumed to constitute grave injury to the mental
    health of pregnant woman.
    The sole argument given by the women for termination is that her boyfriend had broken up the
    relationship they had. In future, there may be a possibility of re-association of their relationship
    but the termination of pregnancy is an irreversible process. Had she been approached the court
    immediately after initial of the pregnancy the Medical Practitioner would have terminate the
    pregnancy or this Court would have permitted to terminate the pregnancy and thus dismissed the
    petition, but she came after 22-24 weeks.

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