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Absence of adequate family planning measures can also result in unwanted and avoidable pregnancies: Supreme Court Allows pregnancy termination

The Supreme Court allowed the pregnancy termination on the ground that the mother was physically, mentally, psychologically or financially prepared to continue with the unwanted pregnancy.
“This Court is also acutely mindful of the patriarchal mindset in many parts of the country and the intense desire to beget a male child sought to be validated by having a “Kuldeepak” to carry forward the name of the family. It is regrettable that even in this day and time, a girl child is not accepted by many as a ‘Kuldeepika’. This regressive mindset is also responsible for female infanticide. The situation before us is however different as both the children of the petitioner are boys and therefore, the prayer made in the present petition is not considered suspect. The petitioner has offered valid reasons for this Court to extend her the latitude to exit from the unwanted pregnancy, though by now she has entered the third trimester,” the division bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B.V. Nagarathna.

The petitioner sought the directions to the respondents to permit the medical termination of her on-going pregnancy under Section 3(2)(b)(i) and Sections 3(3) and 5 of the MTP Act read with Rule 3B of the MTP Rules2, in any Government hospital, preferably at AIIMS, New Delhi.

It was prayed that the petitioner (mother) is neither physically, mentally, psychologically or financially prepared to continue with the unwanted pregnancy.

The petitioner was a married lady aged 27 years. She has two children (both sons, aged four years and one year respectively). The earlier deliveries of the petitioner were C-section deliveries and both she and her husband were satisfied that their family is complete. Her current pregnancy has come as an utter shock to the petitioner for the reason that she did not realise that she has an on-going pregnancy since she had adopted LAM which implies absence of menstruation due to continuing breast feeding as a contraceptive method after delivery of the second child.

The petitioner did not have any symptoms of pregnancy till very recently and immediately on the same being revealed by the Doctor, she has rushed to this Court and instituted the present petition. He further submits that the petitioner is a home maker and her husband is a graduate, working in a private company. The petitioner’s husband has the responsibility of supporting not only his own family, but also to maintain his aged parents and a sister with a paltry salary. It is, therefore unviable for the couple to feed one more mouth.

The court reasoned that one of the grounds on the basis of which a pregnancy may be permitted to be terminated is when continuing with the pregnancy could seriously imperil the mental health of the women.

“In today’s urban background, the norm of the day is a nuclear family. The bulwark of an extended family or a joint family is mostly missing which means that the burden of bringing up the children, giving them a healthy environment and fulfilling all their needs rests entirely on the shoulders of the married couple,” the court said.

The court allowed the writ petition with a direction issued to the petitioner to visit the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, AIIMS, New Delhi tomorrow morning, i.e., on 10th October, 2023. AIIMS shall admit the petitioner for her to undergo the procedure of termination of her pregnancy at the earliest with follow up as may be advised by the treating doctors.


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