Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court
File Photo

Observing that becoming an unwed mother would cause a woman tremendous mental agony, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday allowed her to abort her pregnancy at just over 20 weeks.

The HC has allowed her to undergo medical termination of her pregnancy at a hospital of her choice, in light of the prevalent pandemic.

A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Surendra Tavade also considered the fact that the woman approached the court only when she was past the 20th week because it was late by the time she became aware of her condition, given that there were no doctors available due to the lockdown.

The woman from Ratnagiri, in her plea, stated that she had an affair with a man and had subsequently parted ways with him. "Since my menstrual cycle was irregular even before, I did not realise I was pregnant," she claimed. "In view of the lockdown being announced, I could not visit any doctor after March 2020 and it was only after receiving the sonography report on May 18 that I became aware of this pregnancy," she added. In her plea, she further claimed that it would be extremely difficult for her to carry the pregnancy to term.

"Along with the stigma of being an unwed mother, I will not be able to handle the child as an unmarried single parent. It will be difficult for me to maintain the child without any financial background and mental support," she argued.

She further urged the bench that it would not be possible for her to get married in future because of the social stigma and that she is not mentally prepared to be a mother.

"Giving birth to the child under these circumstances will cause grave mental agony to me and our lives will become miserable. The delay beyond 20 weeks is caused because I could not consult any doctor, mainly due to the prevailing lockdown and I have already suffered immense mental and physical anguish due to this unwanted pregnancy," the woman said. Accordingly, the bench had, at an earlier hearing, subjected her to a medical check-up, seeking an opinion on whether it was advisable for her to abort the pregnancy.

The medical team opined, "Being an unmarried single working woman, continuation of the pregnancy would lead to grave injury to her mental health. It is advisable to terminate the pregnancy with due risk and complications." Having heard the contentions and perused the report, the judges said, "After giving it much thought and consideration, and also keeping in mind the submissions of the woman, we are of the view that if she is compelled to continue with her pregnancy, the same will involve a risk of grave physical and mental injury to her."

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