'Rape Survivor To Carry Pregnancy To Full Term On Medical Board’s Opinion': Bombay High Court After Seeking Report From Thane Civil Hospital

'Rape Survivor To Carry Pregnancy To Full Term On Medical Board’s Opinion': Bombay High Court After Seeking Report From Thane Civil Hospital

The court was hearing a petition by the woman seeking permission to undergo MTP as her pregnancy has crossed the 24-week legal limit for termination.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, May 18, 2024, 10:55 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

Following an opinion of a medical board that performing medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) procedure on a 27-year-old rape survivor could lead to premature birth of a deformed child, the woman has informed the Bombay High Court that she shall carry the pregnancy to the full term.

The court was hearing a petition by the woman seeking permission to undergo MTP as her pregnancy has crossed the 24-week legal limit for termination.

The HC, on May 15, has asked the Thane Civil Hospital to examine the woman and submit a report. The report submitted the next day stated that the woman is not physically fit for the procedure. The board “unanimously” opined that there was a possibility of the child being born alive during the procedure. At the same time, it said that continuation of pregnancy may lead to complications like anaemia and hypertension.

Finding contradictions in the report, the bench of Justices Sandeep Marne and Neela Gokhale interacted with the doctors through video conference on Friday. The board clarified that their opinion on pregnancy related complications were “generic observations”. They informed the bench that the 28-week foetus weighs more than 1 kg. The baby is fully formed and is likely to be born alive.

They explained that the woman would have to be induced for delivery and such delivery could be detrimental to the mental and physical health of the newborn. “Inducing a delivery at this advanced stage of pregnancy may have real risks of a deformed child as a result of premature birth,” the board said.

On a specific query from the bench the doctors clearly stated that the “chances of the baby being born healthy and normal are obviously much higher than if the pregnancy is sought to be terminated now”.

The judges said they were “conscious of the right of the petitioner (woman)  to reproductive freedom, her autonomy over her body and her right to choice”, and sought the woman’s opinion. Her advocate Kanchan Pawar said that the woman was willing to carry the pregnancy to full term.

The bench has said that the hospital shall bear all the expenses and provide her post-delivery medical care, if required. In case, the woman desires to give up the child for adoption, the HC has said that the “State and its agencies will assume responsibility of the child” and take steps to rehabilitate, including placing the child in foster care/adoption. 

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