Bombay HC refuses permission to terminate pregnancy in case of correctable deformity

The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by a Pune resident seeking the termination of her 23-week-long pregnancy on grounds that the foetus had a deformity—a cleft lip and palate.

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The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by a Pune resident seeking the termination of her 23-week-long pregnancy on grounds that the foetus had a deformity—a cleft lip and palate.

The division bench comprising justices Nitin Jamdar and Milind Jadhav dismissed the petition, primarily due to the report of the Pune’s Season Hospital medical board stating that the deformity was surgically correctable.

The woman had approached the high court contending that her sonogram on August 12, 2020 showed that the foetus had a cleft lip and palate. The woman said she then took a second opinion where the deformity was confirmed, and moved high court to seek permission to terminate the pregnancy as it had by then crossed the 20-week limit set by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

On August 27, she was referred to a medical board of specialist doctors by the high court. In its report submitted to the high court on September 3, the board confirmed that the foetal anomalies were surgically correctable, and did not recommend medical termination of the pregnancy.

But the woman’s lawyer submitted that the mental trauma suffered by the pregnant woman is one of the considerations, which the medical board had not looked into,and it would result from being forced to raise a child with this deformity.

The bench, however, refused to accept the submission. “The likelihood of the mental trauma in the future sought to be projected by the petitioner, in the peculiar circumstances of this case, cannot be accepted as a ground for termination of pregnancy,” said the bench, while rejecting the petition.