Unmarried women pregnant from consensual sex cannot terminate pregnancy older than 20 weeks: Delhi HC

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The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to allow a 25-year-old unmarried woman to terminate her pregnancy of 23 weeks.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad refused the relief holding that an unmarried woman who is carrying a child out of a consensual sexual relationship is not permitted to terminate pregnancy older than 20 weeks as per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003 (MTP Rules)

“The Petitioner, who is an unmarried woman and 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. Therefore, Section 3(2)(b) of the Act is not applicable to the facts of this case,” the Court said in its order.

It added that, as of today, Rule 3B of the MTP Rules stands and does not allow termination of pregnancy of an unmarried woman beyond 20 weeks and therefore, the Court cannot go beyond the statute.

“As of today, Rule 3B of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003, stands, and this Court, while exercising its power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950, cannot go beyond the statute. Granting interim relief now would amount to allowing the writ petition itself,” it said.

However, the Court kept the petition pending and issued notice to Delhi’s Health and Family Welfare Department directing it to file its response on the petition by August 26.

The Court said that notice is only limited to the prayer in the petition that seeks to include unmarried woman within the ambit of the Rule 3B of the MTP Rules.

As per the Rules, only victims of rape, minors, women whose marital status changed during pregnancy, mentally-ill women, or women with foetal malformation are allowed to terminate pregnancy upto 24 weeks.

While hearing the same petition yesterday (Friday) the judges had remarked that termination of pregnancy at this stage will virtually amount to killing the child.

The bench had suggested that the child can be given up for adoption.

“Why are you killing the child? There is a big queue for child adoption,” the Chief Justice had said.

It further said that it is not forcing the woman to raise the child and everything will be looked after by the government or hospital.

“I am willing to pay,” the Chief Justice remarked.

The judge had also asked Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal – who was present in the courtroom — for his views.

Sibal said, in his opinion, the child should not be aborted at this stage.

Counsel appearing for the woman, however, told the court that the continuation of pregnancy will have an adverse impact on her physical and mental health.

The judges then asked counsel to obtain instructions from the petitioner and listed the case for hearing in the post-lunch session.

After talking to the petitioner, the counsel informed the court that she is not willing to continue the pregnancy.

The bench, however, said that the law does not permit killing the child.

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