‘Judicial conscience’: Bombay HC denies nod to woman for termination of 26-week pregnancy | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Bombay high court on Monday denied a 28-year-old woman’s request to terminate her 26-week pregnancy, citing “judicial conscience” and the lack of mechanisms to ensure the biological father’s equal responsibility in such scenarios. The woman, currently undergoing divorce proceedings with her estranged husband, claimed that she became pregnant by a friend.
A division bench of Justices A S Gadkari and Neela Gokhale noted the challenging circumstances for women like the petitioner and the absence of mechanisms to ensure that biological fathers share equal social and economic responsibility.
“Our judicial conscience does not permit us to grant permission to the petitioner to medically terminate the pregnancy at this stage and also underlined ‘social stigma‘ as the main reason behind the pregnancy termination request. Permission is accordingly denied,” the bench stated.
The woman had sought to end her “unwanted” pregnancy. According to her plea, she is already a mother to a four-year-old daughter and is in the middle of a divorce. The pregnancy occurred while she was in a relationship with a friend.
The justices acknowledged the woman’s right to reproductive freedom, body autonomy, and choice but emphasized that the medical board did not find her fit for termination at this stage.
The court’s ruling pointed out that the primary reasons behind the woman’s request to terminate the pregnancy are social stigma and her financial situation. However, these reasons were deemed insufficient for an exception to permit termination beyond the 24-week period allowed by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.
“We do want to express our anguish for the difficult circumstances in which women such as the petitioner find themselves, especially in the absence of any effective mechanism to ensure that the biological father shares equal pain, responsibility, societal reproach and social castigation, meted out to women in such cases,” the high court said.
The bench also noted that once the baby is born, the petitioner could opt for adoption.
The woman mentioned she had not paid much attention to her menstrual cycles due to the stress in her personal life, leading to a delayed discovery of her pregnancy.
“If the petitioner is made to go through the unwanted pregnancy, then there is likelihood hood of mental and physical anguish and trauma,” the plea stated.
Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, court approval is required to terminate a pregnancy beyond the 24-week gestation period.
The high court expressed optimism that the government will take proactive measures to address such complexities in the future.

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