Kerala High Court recently held that in the absence of any medical complications the reasons like an economic struggle and social struggles cannot be treated as grounds to terminate a pregnancy after 24 weeks which is the maximum time period prescribed by the statute.
Recently the Supreme Court in several cases has declared that women had the right to make reproductive choices to be a dimension of their personal liberty.
A single judge bench by Justice V.G.Arun noted that the medical termination of pregnancy after 24 weeks is permitted only if it is necessitated by any substantial fetal abnormalities by the medical board. This criterion was inserted through the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021.
The court passed this order in a plea filed by a 21-year-old woman who seeks to terminate her pregnancy after 28 weeks.
FACTS OF THIS CASE
The petitioner in this case is 21 aged woman. She admitted before the Kerala High Court that her pregnancy was the result of a consensual sexual relationship with her ex. live-in partner. The contention raised by the petitioner was that she was in a relationship wither ex. because he agreed to convert to Islam and agreed to marry her. But the said partner broke his promise and refused to marry her. He demanded dowry in order to marry her.
She also alleged that the said partner used to assault her in a drunken state. This made her move out of his house. She contended that she is from an economically backward family. And it will badly affect the dignity and future of her and her family after she gives birth before marriage.
The court after acknowledging the facts and going through the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act held that the liberty to women to make reproductive choices cannot transgress the restrictions under the said act. Thus termination of pregnancy after 24 weeks can only be allowed after sufficient medical grounds. Economic Backwardness and Social Status are not valid grounds for abortion or termination of pregnancy.