The Bombay High Court on Monday (Aug 04) has refused to give the nod to a couple’s plea to abort their 26-week-old foetus, detected with a congenital heart disease. Although people have different opinion on the back of medical and ethical questions, the need to have a hard look at the 37-year-old abortion law is now a main concern.
The Mumbai couple, Niketa and Haresh Mehta who appealed in the court speaking their unwillingness to have child with such medical complications which would not only put financial burden on a middle class family but a more serious case of mental and emotional agony. Of course, it is the mother who is going to suffer the most after delivering the baby as she is going to take care of the baby.
The present section (3), (5) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act passed in 1971 and implemented in April, 1972, only allow abortion if pregnancy holds a health risk to the mother or when the child suffer a health risk but not beyond the 20th week of the pregnancy.
The court order came after a medical panel claimed the least possibility of any health problem to the child. Though one can go with the verdict citing the ‘right to life’ but at the same time it is disreputable to push the mother to have an abnormal child. While giving the verdict, the court could have directed any guidelines to further read the case and possible legislation in the act.
Again in this case, if the appeal remains unheard then the verdict will certainly encourage more and more couple to opt for illegal and unsafe means, which will be more critical than the case. Since medical advancement has made it possible to detect congenital health in the unborn, the law should allow termination of pregnancy, though in a specific and defined way to evade any misuse.
Even if ‘abortion’ often been a matter of discussion in medico-legal circles, it is the responsibility of the law makers to address the social concerns at large. The law should have some formidable guidelines to deal with such cases in a more definite way.
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