A Woman’s right to have a baby includes right not to have a baby ?

Need to Amend MTP Act ?

The Hon. Apex Court in its recent judgment allowed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) of 14-year rape victim @ 24 weeks against the current law which allows it only up to 20 weeks!!

Current law :
As per current Law Pregnancy of a Woman (Law does not mention about Married or unmarried pregnant woman) can be terminated by a Registered Medical Practitioner are of the opinion, in good faith, that continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the Pregnant woman or may cause grave injury to physical and mental health of pregnant woman or such a child to be born may suffer from serious physical and mental abnormalities. If 20 weeks pregnancy is to be terminated, then two registered Medical Practitioners’ must opine in favour of MTP.

Permission of Guardian :
If the pregnant woman is below 18 years of age or above 18 years but is a lunatic, then consent in writing of her guardian is a must.
In all cases, consent of pregnant woman before MTP is a precondition.

Following are the 3 incidences happened in last few years, which emphasise the need for amendment in MTP Act.
Case 1 –
It’s the case from Ahmedabad. The Gujarat High Court disallowed the petition filed by the Father of a rape victim owing to the current legal provisions under which MTP can be allowed only up to 20 weeks !! see the link of the news http://indianexpress.com/…/sc-quashes-hc-order-allows-min…/…
Previously also there was a similar case before Hon’ble Bombay High Court in which the question of disability related MTP came for consideration. It was revealed in the sonography done in 24 weeks that the baby had serious anomalies and had complete congenital heart blockage. So the parents approached Hon’ble Bombay High Court fro seeking permission for MTP @ 24 weeks, but the court turned down the petition pointing towards the law !! There are certain anomalies which can be diagnosed in or after 24 weeks. The Couple raised a valid question that when we know our baby if born will born with severe disabilities and the baby along with parents will live their life with the continuous ordeal, then why not to opt for MTP ?

In this case from Chandigarh, a mentally retarded woman had become pregnant as a result of an alleged rape that took place while she was an inmate at a government-run welfare institution located in Chandigarh !! The Chandigarh Administration had approached the High Court seeking approval for the termination of her pregnancy, keeping in mind that in addition to being mentally retarded the victim was also an orphan who did not have any parent or guardian to look after her or her prospective child. The High Court gave permission, (See the linkhttp://indiankanoon.org/doc/1500783/ )
However, some social activists challenged this order before Apex Court. After perusing the experts opinions and after hearing arguments, their Lordships were of the opinion that the Consent of the victim (who was not mentally fit) was not taken and in their opinion, the MTP was not in the Best interest of the victim !!!

In my opinion, these judgments clearly emphasises the dire need of amendments in current MTP Act, 1971, of course with protection measures, in which MTP after 20 weeks is not permitted in any case…… What about such unfortunate rape victims upon whom the unwanted pregnancy was imposed or about the mother who knows that their child will not be able to lead a peaceful life and who will look after such child after parents ?

What is the opinion of Medicos ?

Adv. Rohit Erande

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