Bombay HC Allows Abortion for Grave Mental Injury to Pregnant Women

Bombay HC Allows Abortion for Grave Mental Injury to Pregnant Women

The Bombay High Court has affirmed that abortion may be permitted in situations where the continuation of the pregnancy poses a significant risk of severe mental harm to the pregnant woman.

The division bench consisting of Justice N.R. Borkar and Justice Somasekhar Sudaresan ruled that the provision for abortion in cases of grave mental injury to the pregnant woman should not be restricted solely to pregnancies resulting from sexual assault. The petitioner, a 19-year-old, had approached the High Court seeking approval to terminate her 25-week pregnancy, which had occurred from a consensual relationship.

The Medical Board confirmed that there were no congenital abnormalities detected in the fetus. However, taking into account the petitioner's socio-cultural background and vulnerable economic situation, the continuation of the pregnancy could potentially result in severe psychological harm. The Board further stated that the petitioner was physically capable of undergoing a medical termination of pregnancy and recommended termination.

Upon examination of Section 3(2)(b)(i) of the MTP Act, the High Court observed that it permits termination by a registered medical practitioner if the continuation of the pregnancy would pose a grave injury to the woman's physical or mental health. Explanation 2 to Section 3(2) creates a statutory presumption of grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman if the pregnancy resulted from rape. However, the High Court emphasized that a diagnosis of grave mental injury is not confined solely to cases of sexual assault.

The Court also took into account Section 3(4)(b) of the MTP Act, which mandates that no pregnancy shall be terminated without the consent of the pregnant woman. In order to ensure that the petitioner's consent was fully informed, the High Court arranged a meeting with her. During this meeting, the petitioner confirmed her understanding of the termination procedure and expressed her desire to terminate the pregnancy.

Based on these considerations, the High Court concluded that the petitioner's right to make an autonomous choice regarding her body should be respected and upheld.

The High Court referred to the precedent set in the case of (Mother of X) vs. State of Maharashtra and Anr., where the Supreme Court emphasized the paramount importance of the pregnant person's health and consent in such matters. It underscored that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is deeply personal and intricately linked with dignity, autonomy, and reproductive choice, all of which are protected under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Therefore, based on the considerations outlined, the High Court granted permission to the petitioner to undergo the termination procedure at the earliest opportunity.

Case Title: X.Y.Z. vs The Dean of B.J., Government Medical College and Others

Case No.:Writ Petition No. 7745 of 2024

Advocate for the Petitioner: Mr Tejesh Dande

Advocate for the Respondents: Ms Purnima Awasthi (Respondent 2), Ms Kavita Solunke (State)

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