Jharkhand and Bombay High Courts adopt opposing views on second and third trimester abortions
The Jharkhand High Court has held that medical termination of pregnancy after the statutorily stipulated twenty week period is permissible in cases where carrying the pregnancy to term would harm the mental health of the pregnant woman. In doing so, the Court has adopted a wide interpretation of Sec. 5 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, which permits abortion after 20 weeks in cases where the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the woman. In this case, a 15 year old had approached the court for termination of a pregnancy resulting from sexual assault. Considering the social repercussions and trauma that the girl may have faced as a result of the sexual assault and pregnancy, and in view of medical opinion that termination did not pose a risk to her life, the Court allowed the girl’s petition.
The Bombay High Court, however, has adopted the opposite view in a similar case. In that case, a minor girl’s father approached the court for abortion of a 27 week old foetus on the grounds that the foetus was a conception of rape, and carrying the pregnancy to term would cause grave injury to the girl. However, the court refused to allow the petition given the medical boards opinion that no abnormality was detected in the then viable foetus, and the girl should be directed to continue the pregnancy with obstetric and psychological support.
Minor through her mother v. State of Jharkhand W.P. ( Cr.) No. 399 of 2017 (High Court Jharkhand); Danbahadur Rajkaram Yadav v. State of Maharashtra and Anr. W.P. No. 3874/2017 (High Court of Bombay)