Decisions on pregnancy women's alone to make: Bombay High Courttext_fields
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court ruled on January 20 that the decision to continue a pregnancy rests in the hands of the pregnant woman, and the choice to terminate or continue the same is her alone.
The court pronounced so while allowing a married woman to terminate her 32-week pregnancy after the foetus was detected with serious abnormalities, PTI reported.
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and S G Dige refused to accept the medical board's argument that though the foetus has serious abnormalities, it should not be terminated since the pregnancy is almost at its end.
The woman had approached High Court seeking to terminate her pregnancy after sonography revealed the foetus had severe abnormalities and that the baby would be born with physical and mental disabilities.
The court order said, "Given a severe foetal abnormality, the length of the pregnancy does not matter. The petitioner has taken an informed decision. It is not an easy one. But that decision is hers, and hers alone to make. The right to choose is of the petitioner's. It is not the right of the Medical Board.
The court observed that refusing termination on the grounds of delay would be condemning the foetus to a less-than-optimal life and robbing the mother of her every positive attribute of parenthood.
"It would be a denial of her right to dignity and her reproductive and decisional autonomy. The mother knows today there is no possibility of having a normal healthy baby at the end of this delivery."
"Accepting the Medical Board's view is not just to condemn the foetus to a substandard life but is to force on the petitioner and her husband an unhappy and traumatic parenthood. The effect on them and their family cannot even be imagined," the court said.
The foetus was detected with both microcephaly and lissencephaly.
"Because it is difficult to predict at birth what problems will occur, microcephalic babies need constant and regular follow up and check-ups with health care providers. There is no known cure or standard treatment for it. In more extreme cases, microcephalic babies need intervention almost constantly," the court said.
The court order noted that the prognosis for children with lissencephaly depends on the degree of brain malformation.