Delhi HC Seeks Centre's Response On PIL Seeking More Time Limit For Abortion

akanksha jain

28 May 2019 1:00 PM GMT

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  • Delhi HC Seeks Centres Response On PIL Seeking More Time Limit For Abortion

    Observing that it needed scientific consideration, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Centre and the National Commission for Women seeking their response to a PIL calling for extension of time limit for terminating the pregnancy on a women's own will to 24 or 26 weeks from the present 12 weeks.A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi issued notices...

    Observing that it needed scientific consideration, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Centre and the National Commission for Women seeking their response to a PIL calling for extension of time limit for terminating the pregnancy on a women's own will to 24 or 26 weeks from the present 12 weeks.

    A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi issued notices on the PIL filed by advocate and activist Amit Sahni.

    Sahni has sought amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act which bars abortion post 20 weeks even if the foetus is found to have genetic abnormalities like Down Syndrome.

    The MTP Act was enacted in the year 1971. Section 3 provides that a registered medical practitioner can terminate pregnancy of 12 weeks, while a pregnancy between 12 weeks and 20 weeks can be terminated if not less than two registered medical practitioner are of the opinion it is injurious to the health of the mother or if there is substantial risk that the child would suffer severe abnormalities. 

    For any pregnancy after 20 weeks, the woman has to move court as voluntarily causing miscarriage is a penal offence under Section 312 IPC. 

    Sahni says such provisions are not practical as most of the tests to detect severe genetic abnormalities like Down Syndrome or 21 trisomy, dextroversion, congenital malformation, microcephaly, spina-bifida or other genetic disorders etc., are conducted only after 20 weeks and a woman cannot be forced to deliver an abnormal child and take care of him for life.

    He also stresses that the law does not take into account practical aspects of life, such as women who reach 20 weeks of pregnancy but cannot continue the same due to change in circumstances such as death of spouse or marital discord etc.

    Sahni relies on cases like the one from the Calcutta High Court wherein a woman's petition to terminate her 26-week-old foetus that would be born with Down Syndrome was rejected as the court felt that the right to life of a 26-week-old foetus outweighed the mental trauma of the mother.

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