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Delhi HC seeks Centre's response on plea to extend pregnancy termination period

ANI | Updated: May 28, 2019 14:49 IST

New Delhi [India], May 28 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought a response from Central government on a plea seeking to extend the length of pregnancy termination by further four to six weeks in case of any health risk to mother or the foetus.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi observed that the issue needs a scientific consideration, and slated the matter for August 6, while asking the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Law and Justice and National Commission for women, to file a reply.
The petition filed by Amit Sahni sought direction to the government to replace or suitably extend the length of pregnancy from present legally permissible duration of twenty weeks by a further period of four to six weeks by bringing suitable amendments in Section 3(2)(b) of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.
Sahni, in his petition, mentioned that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 completely prohibits termination of pregnancy in case fetus is suffering from severe abnormality even after a period of 20 weeks.
Even if the foetus is scanned and found positive with serious abnormalities like Down Syndrome or 21, Trisomy, Dextroversion, congenital malformation, microcephaly, spina-bifida or other genetic disorders, the woman is forced to carry a pregnancy due to bar provided in section 3 (2) of MTP Act, Petition further stated.
The MTP Act was enacted in 1971 and the medical science has developed significantly from 1971 to till date but the law on termination of pregnancy has not evolved in the same proportion during the said period, the petition further added.
The petition also stated that there is an urgent need to empower women with sexual rights, legal protection against sex crimes and sex choices both in their own interest and for sake of reducing the fertility rate as a whole and the abortion beyond a period of 20 weeks is permitted only if continuing the pregnancy poses a substantial risk to the woman's life.
But the law does not take care of the factum of serious abnormalities suffered by the child in the womb and detected after the 20th week, the petition pointed out.
The Supreme Court and this Hon'ble Court have reiterated in several judgments that woman's right to privacy, dignity and bodily integrity should be respected, petition states.
Many European countries including France, UK, and Italy and even Nepal allow abortion after 20 weeks if fetal abnormalities are discovered and 23 countries including Canada, Germany and Vietnam, allow abortion at any time if the request is based on social or medical reasons. (ANI)