The Kerala High Court on Monday stated that in the absence of any medical complications, economic backwardness and social stigma cannot be the grounds for permitting medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) that is more than 24 weeks old.
The decision taken by Justice VG Arun comes after a 21-year-old Muslim woman filed a writ petition seeking MTP for her seven-month-old foetus because of economic backwardness and social stigma.
Assaulted, Left By Father Of Child
According to the petitioner, she had been in a live-in relationship since last year November with a man named Sanjay, who promised to convert to Islam and marry her. He allegedly assaulted her multiple times when drunk, before he drove her out of their house in September 2022.
She contended in the court that her family is economically backward and that giving birth before marriage would adversely affect her future and her family's dignity, reported a Times Of India article.
HC Refused To Go Against MTP Act Regulations
"In the absence of any medical reasons referable to the petitioner or the foetus, economic backwardness or possibility of social stigma cannot compel this Court to transgress the statutory prohibition and grant permission for medical termination of pregnancy," said Kerala High Court in its order.
Justice VG Arun added that as per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 2021, medical termination could not be approved after 24 weeks of pregnancy unless there are any substantial abnormalities with the foetus after the examination of the medical board, reported a Bar And Bench article.
Following the court's directive, a medical board examined the petitioner and found that she is of sound health both mentally and physically and does not have any foetal or maternal complications. The board added that even if the MTP was conducted, there was a 50-60 per cent chance that the baby would survive, and there would also be a risk of neonatal complications and adverse neuro-developmental issues for the baby.
Considering these reports, the court cited a similar judgment from 2009 (Suchita Srivastava and Another Vs. Chandigarh Administration), which said that women have the right to make a reproductive choice under personal liberty, however, the court cannot go against the regulations of the MTP Act.
Also Read: Kerala High Court Allows Termination Of 30-Weeks Pregnancy Of Minor Rape Victim