Supreme Court agrees to list woman’s plea seeking permission to abort 23-week pregnancy

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 19, agreed to consider listing an unmarried woman’s plea, who challenged the Delhi High Court order declining to grant permission to her to abort the 23-week foetus.

The lawyer, representing the woman, mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana and sought an urgent hearing in the matter. The bench also comprises Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli.

On July 16, the Delhi High Court, while refusing to entertain a plea seeking termination of a 23-week pregnancy, observed that the petitioner, a 25-year-old unmarried woman, whose pregnancy arises out of a consensual relationship, is clearly not covered by any of the clauses under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003.

The woman stated in her plea that she cannot give birth to the child as she is an unmarried woman and her partner has refused to marry her. It further stated that giving birth out of wedlock will entail in her ostracisation and cause her mental agony.

The woman in her plea says that she is BA graduate and is non-working and thus she will not be able to raise and handle the child. She stated that she is not mentally prepared to be a mother and that continuing with the pregnancy will lead to grave physical and mental injury for her.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said, “A perusal of Section 3(2) (a) of the Act provides that the Medical Practitioner can terminate the pregnancy, provided, the pregnancy does not exceed 20 weeks. Section 3(2) (b) of the Act provides for termination in circumstances where the pregnancy exceeds 20 weeks but does not exceed 24 weeks.”