Mumbai: Observing that in India, a child of an unmarried mother is taken as a “social stigma”, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday allowed a student to abort her 23-week pregnancy. The HC said disallowing the the girl from aborting her foetus would infringe her right to live a dignified life.
A bench of Justices Pradeep Deshmukh and Pushpa Ganediwala said it can visualise the difficulties, which the girl would have to face, if she gives birth to the child.
The bench was seized with a plea filed by a 25-year-old commerce student. The girl urged the judges to allow her to abort her 23-weeks foetus as per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.
According to the girl, she met a boy on a social networking site in 2017 and fell in love with him. He promised to marry her and under this pretext maintained physical relationship with her. During all this, the girl conceived and asked him to marry immediately, however, the boy refused to marry her.
Subsequently, the girl first filed a criminal complaint of rape against the boy and then petitioned the bench led by Justice Deshmukh.
Having considered her case, the judges said, “In India a child to an unwed mother is taken as a social stigma of a serious nature and she does not want to carry such stigma for her entire life. In our opinion, it would neither be beneficial for the petitioner girl and nor for the fetus in her womb to continue with the pregnancy.”
“In the present social milieu in India, we can visualise the future complications she may have to face in her social and married life if she would be deprived of her right to make a reproductive choice, which has its origin in her fundamental right to life, liberty and human dignity,” the judges said.
The judges even considered the report of the medical board of Chandrapur hospital, which said the foetus is not likely to survive, if born. The medical board in its report had also stated that if the girl is made to continue with the pregnancy, it would have an adverse impact on her mental and physical health.
The judges having noted the report, also cautioned the girl to first consider options other than abortion at this stage. “As a word of caution, we would like to advice her before taking such drastic decision at this advanced stage of
pregnancy, it would be better to consult the district Child Welfare Committee. If she does not want the child, she has the option to give the child in adoption as per the law as it would ensure her name isn't disclosed,” the order authored by Justice Ganediwala reads.
It further adds, “We are of the opinion that the continuance of such pregnancy would cause grave injury to the mental health of the petitioner. She is allowed to exercise her choice to terminate the pregnancy, she being major, at her own risk.”