Calcutta High Court: Pregnancy Past 20 Weeks Can Be Terminated if Foetus Has Congenital Defects

Author- Neha Agarwal (Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan)

Calcutta High Court has approved in case of Ruma Imran @ Shadab Sahab & Anr v.The State of West Bengal & Ors, the termination of a pregnancy having a period of 25 weeks on the finding that the foetus had congenital defect.

Calcutta High Court while following a Division Bench judgment of this Court in Suparna Debnath v State of West Bengal which decided on February 18, 2019 in MAT No. 181 of 2019 has interpreted Section 3 to include a case where there is a congenital defect which would not be conducive to the healthy life of a child if carried to term and has also considered the agony caused to the parent, the mother on the ground of injuring her mental health. Section 3 of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971 places absolute bar for terminating pregnancy beyond 20 weeks. The Division Bench however held that this bar was not applicable in cases where it was proven that the child will be born with inherent health defects.

The medical report in the present case stated that the foetus had congenital anomaly, which was not compatible with the normal and healthy life of the child after birth.

The single bench headed by Justice Protik Prakash Banerjee on the basis of report held that:

We must hasten to add here that even though in the case of pregnant women, there is a compelling State interest in order to protect the life of the prospective child, there is a corresponding obligation – nay, a bounden duty – on the part of the State to provide quality and dignity to such life and such quality and dignity of life should extend to the mother as well, whose life is paramount at the stage of pregnancy. On the other hand, if it is compromised, the provisions contained under section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, cannot operate as an absolute bar and can extend beyond 20 (twenty) weeks.

Accordingly, The writ petition is allowed by the court and order permitting the petitioner to terminate her pregnancy and further direct the respondents and each of them to take suitable steps as may be necessary to terminate the pregnancy of the petitioner keeping paramount the welfare of the petitioner and her mental and physical health.

To Read Judgment/Order: Click here!

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