After Centre’s plea, Delhi HC revokes order allowing widow to abort 29-week pregnancy

- January 23, 2024
| By : Patriot Bureau |

Justice Subramonium Prasad announced the recall, responding to a plea filed by the Centre on January 4, seeking reconsideration of the order. The Centre argued that the unborn child had a fair chance of survival, emphasising the need to protect the right to life of the infant

The court said there was an unlawful assembly which vandalised the properties of people belonging to a particular community. (Representational Image: Pixabay)

The Delhi High Court has revoked its earlier decision, a week after allowing a woman, who lost her husband in October last year, to terminate her 29-week foetus.

Justice Subramonium Prasad announced the recall, responding to a plea filed by the Centre on January 4, seeking reconsideration of the order. The Centre argued that the unborn child had a fair chance of survival, emphasising the need to protect the right to life of the infant.

The specific details of the latest order are pending release. The central government contended in its application that termination in this case would require doctors to perform foeticide, and failure to do so could lead to preterm delivery with significant complications.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where the woman underwent a medical examination, recommended continuing the pregnancy for another two to three weeks for the well-being of both the mother and the child. AIIMS, referencing the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, argued that termination beyond 24 weeks is reserved for foetuses with significant abnormalities, and in this case, foeticide is neither justified nor ethical as the foetus is deemed grossly normal.

On January 4, the high court had granted permission for the widow, dealing with depression, to terminate her 29-week foetus, citing potential adverse effects on her mental health if the pregnancy continued. The court recognized the right to reproductive choice, including the right not to procreate. The woman, whose marital status changed after her husband’s demise on October 19, 2023, had learned about her pregnancy on October 31, 2023.

The court noted that she should be allowed to terminate the pregnancy due to the risk of impairing her mental stability and suicidal tendencies. The woman, married in February 2023, discovered her pregnancy at 20 weeks after losing her husband in October. In December, facing extreme trauma, she sought medical termination, but permission was denied as the gestation period exceeded 24 weeks.

Seeking court intervention, the woman formed a medical board to assess her health condition. AIIMS, in its report, provisionally diagnosed her with depression linked to the spouse’s death and an adjustment disorder. The report highlighted uncertainty regarding the potential detrimental effects of pregnancy continuation on the petitioner’s mental health from a psychiatric standpoint.

Rule 3(B) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Rules allows a woman to terminate her pregnancy up to 24 weeks under specified conditions.

(With PTI inputs)