Delhi HC denies unmarried woman permission to terminate pregnancy at 23 weeks

Post-pregnancy care for your skin.(photo:IANSLIFE)
Representational image: IANS

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday said it will not permit an unmarried woman to undergo medical termination of pregnancy at 23 weeks, observing it virtually amounts to killing the foetus.

The high court also said the law granted time to unmarried women to undergo the procedure of medical termination of pregnancy and the legislature has purposefully excluded consensual relationship from the category of cases where termination is permissible after 20 weeks and up to 24 weeks.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, while dealing with the petition by the woman to undergo medical termination of pregnancy, suggested that the petitioner be kept somewhere safe until she delivers the child who can subsequently be given up for adoption.

We will ensure that the girl is kept somewhere safe and she can deliver and go. There is a big queue for adoption, observed the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad.

We will not permit you to kill that child. (We are) very sorry. This virtually amounts to killing (the foetus), said the court orally as it noted that almost 24 out of 36 weeks of gestation were over.

The lawyer, representing the petitioner, said that being unmarried, she is in great mental agony and is not in a position to raise the child.

After hearing the parties, the court said that it will pass an order on the petition. 

The lawyer for the petitioner argued that the bar under the abortion law on medical termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks for instances of unmarried women was discriminatory in view of the relief being available to divorced women and certain other categories of women up to 24 week. 

He said that the law permitted unmarried women to undergo medical termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks but the petitioner, who was in a consensual relationship, approached the high court at the present stage on account of being ditched by the partner and emphasised that the intent of the MTP Act is safe abortion.

The lawyer also turned down the court's suggestion, saying the petitioner does not want to deliver the child.

In its proposal to the petitioner, the court said that it was not forcing her to raise the child once it is born and she would be taken care of till then.

Your whereabouts will not be known to anyone. Deliver the baby, please come back... You ask the client. Everything will be looked after by the government of India or the Delhi government or some good hospital I am also offering to pay, said the Chief Justice.

During the hearing, the court said that it would refer the petitioner's case to AIIMS to seek a medical opinion in terms of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act but the central government counsel said that such an opinion can be sought under certain specified circumstances and the petitioner's case was not covered under them.  

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