Cal HC | Pregnancy beyond 20 weeks may be terminated where there is a congenital defect which would not be conducive to healthy life of child

Calcutta High Court: Protik Prakash Banerjee, J. granted direction for termination of a pregnancy of 25 plus weeks on grounds of the baby being at risk after birth.

The petitioner was examined by a medical board constituted by the Director of the Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, and in their opinion, it was necessary to terminate the pregnancy of the petitioner. The Medical Board submitted that the petitioner, Ruma Imran, had a pregnancy of 25 plus weeks duration with gross congenital anomaly (Hydrocephalus) which posed a risk to a healthy life after birth.

The Court noted that while the provisions of Medical Termination of the Pregnancy Act, 1971 on a literal reading prohibited the termination of a pregnancy, in absolute terms, beyond a period of 20 weeks. Reliance was, however, placed on the judgment of Division Bench of this Court in Suparna Debnath v. State of West Bengal, MAT No. 181 of 2019 (decided on 18-02-2019) where Section 3 of MTP Act was read along with objects of the said legislation and given a purposive interpretation. In that case, it was held that a pregnancy may be terminated where there is a congenital defect which would not be conducive to the healthy life of a child if carried to term, and where there is a probability of injury being caused to the mental health of the mother.

Thus, the Court, keeping in mind the welfare of the petitioner, and her mental and physical health, directed the termination of petitioner’s pregnancy subject to medical feasibility within a period of one week from the date of passing of this order.[Ruma Imran v. State of West Bengal, 2019 SCC OnLine Cal 739, decided on 30-05-2019]

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