January 23, 2022 11:15:55 pm
The Bombay High Court recently held that the government and private hospitals must abide by recent amendment to Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, which stipulated that opinion of one registered medical practitioner was necessary for termination of pregnancy of less than 20 weeks, and that of two registered doctors for termination of pregnancy between 20 and 24 weeks.
The HC held that in case of termination of less than 24-week pregnancy, the hospitals or clinic need not ask for its permission if relevant conditions are fulfilled as per law. The court also held that “in all cases of pregnancy, the mental health, environment and living conditions of the woman are of paramount concern.”
A division bench of Justice Gautam S Patel and Justice Madhav J Jamdar on January 13 passed an order while hearing a plea by a woman seeking to terminate her nearly 18-week pregnancy.
Advocate Shubham Misar for the petitioner submitted that despite the amended law covering termination of her pregnancy being less than 20-week, the civil hospital had sought an order from the Court to proceed further, which prompted her to approach the HC.
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The bench noted, “The Civil Hospital is not entitled to make any such demand. It is bound by the provisions of the Act. It is not in every case that an order of a court is required. As the plain language of the statute says, and this is also the weight of all precedents, a pregnancy may be terminated on fulfillment of conditions set out in the MTP Act. Where the pregnancy is less than 20 weeks, only the good faith opinion of a registered medical practitioner is required….Our writ jurisdiction which is equitable and discretionary, is invoked only in regard to the third “and unspecified” category, that is, where the pregnancy is more than 24 weeks.”
Disposing the plea, the bench held, “We do not refuse the request of the petitioner. We observe that, before completion of 20 weeks or 24 weeks, given that there is a necessary opinion of a registered medical practitioner or two, as the case may be, the civil hospital must consider the report of the petitioner in accordance with the MTP Act and this order.”
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