THE BOMBAY High Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking directions for amending the provision of termination of pregnancy in case of rape victims.
A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre was hearing a petition filed by NGO Association of Aiding Justice, seeking directions to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and Pre-Conception Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act so that rape victims, who get pregnant, are permitted to undergo abortion according to their choice.
An advocate for the petitioner also sought directions that the existing provision to seek court’s nod to terminate pregnancy beyond 20 weeks be increased to 24 weeks. The plea stated most of the abnormalities in the foetus are picked up in sonography around 20 to 24 weeks, which exceeds the legal abortion ceiling. On many occasions, kidney and brain defects in a foetus manifest after the 20th week, it added.
Dismissing the petition, the bench said, “Such a direction cannot be issued for the reason it endangers the life of the expectant mother, if the foetus is aborted after 24 weeks. Of course, on case to case basis, the courts have been granting necessary permissions…”
On pregnant rape victims, Chief Justice Nandrajog said that “the society looks down on them”. These “poor girls” have no idea how to deal with such a situation and they don’t know that there is a danger to their lives, he added.
The Chief Justice added termination of pregnancy after 24 weeks “is not just dangerous for the woman…, the foetus is developed and there is a heart beat”. He said such directions are a matter of framing policy, which is a legislative process.