Abortion allowed as petitioner has every right to take all steps necessary to preserve her own life against the avoidable dangers to it

High Court of Himachal Pradesh: While deciding a writ petition, a Division Bench comprising of Dharam Chand Chaudhary, J. and Vivek Singh Thakur, J. allowed the abortion of a 32 week developed foetus on the ground that it was risky for the petitioner to complete the normal period of pregnancy and deliver child on the due date.

The petitioner, aged 19 years, having mild to moderate mental retardation, approached the Court for seeking a direction to the Medical Superintendent, Kamla Nehru Hospital for Mother and Child, Shimla to arrange for abortion of a foetus in her womb. The Court gave a direction for conducting medical examination of the petitioner by a medical board. The report of the medical board revealed that there were major complications in the growth of the foetus in petitioner’s womb and the vaginal delivery of the same would cause danger to the life of petitioner as well as the baby. The medical board was of the opinion that the petitioner should go for premature delivery with surgical intervention because if pregnancy is allowed to continue up to its normal tenure, the head size of the foetus will increase further and in that event the surgery is going to become more complicated, besides causing more risk to petitioner’s life.

The Court perused the material available on record including the medical opinion of the board constituted and relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in WP (Civil) No. 17 of 2017, (decided 16-01-2017). The Court was of the view that the continuation of pregnancy would endanger the physical and mental health of the petitioner. The risk of termination of her pregnancy was within the acceptable limits. The relief sought in this writ petition, was also covered by Section 3(2)(i) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. Although the pregnancy was at an advance stage of 32 weeks, however, having regard to the danger to the life of the petitioner and expert opinion that the foetus may not survive to extra uterine life, the Court granted permission to the petitioner to terminate the pregnancy. The petitioner had every right to take all steps necessary to preserve her own life against the avoidable dangers to it. Accordingly, the petition was allowed and directions were given to the respondent to arrange for the termination of pregnancy of the petitioner. [Geeta Devi v. State o f H.P., 2017 SCC OnLine HP 1574, order dated 17.10.2017]

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