Chandigarh, April 3
More than 50 years after the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act came into being, a Bill for termination of advanced-stage pregnancies in view of medical opinion has been passed by both Houses of Parliament. The Bill was pending for almost a year.
As the matter came up for resumed hearing before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Arun Monga’s Bench was told requisite amendments to the 1971 Act, introduced by way of a Bill, had been passed and formal assent had been accorded by the President of India. Additional Solicitor-General of India Satya Pal Jain also submitted only the notification was required to be issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The matter was brought to Justice Monga’s notice by a pregnant woman through counsel Ranjan Lakhanpal. Referring to the Bill and other aspects related to termination of pregnancies in advanced stages, Justice Monga had asserted the legal and moral predicament of the court, yet again, was whether to permit a pregnant mother to abort the life of a foetus aged 23 weeks plus five days, before completion of gestation period.
Medical reports to terminate pregnancy were in the mother’s favour. But, legal impediment in view of the statutory mandate envisaged under the provisions of the 1971 Act did not allow the doctors to implement their medical recommendation.
Justice Monga had asserted this was not the first time such a case had come before the court. Past instances were aplenty and, perhaps, becoming a routine, but only where a litigant had the means to approach the court.
Justice Monga, on a previous date of hearing, asserted a uniform policy was required to be formulated to deal with all such cases. Jain was also asked to apprise the court of the steps being taken or contemplated to frame a uniform policy on legal termination of pregnancies, where medical opinion was strongly in its favour. Apart from easier access to justice, such a policy would also ensure the deserved dignity and confidentiality to the women, confronted with such legal impediments, Justice Monga had added.
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