Delhi HC turns down plea by unmarried woman to terminate pregnancy at 23 weeks

She has carried the child for 24 weeks, why not wait some more weeks: judges

July 15, 2022 11:15 pm | Updated 11:51 pm IST - New Delhi

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

It virtually amounts to killing the foetus, the Delhi High Court observed while denying permission to an unmarried woman on Friday to medically terminate her 23-week pregnancy.

A Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad while reserving it order on the woman’s plea seeking permission to terminate her pregnancy asked why she approached to the court “at the last moment”.

The woman’s counsel replied, “circumstances were such that she was unable to decide, and at the last moment her partner ditched her. The pregnancy is the result of consensual relationship. The 24-week period is going to get over by July 18”.

“Since she is not a divorcee and widow she requires permission of the court to terminate pregnancy till 24 weeks. It will lead to immense mental injury if she is denied her reproductive right,” her counsel argued.

“We will give you an order on merits. So that you have a window of two days,” the Bench said.

The woman’s counsel said, “Her parents are farmers. She is the eldest of five children and has four younger brothers. Her pregnancy has happened accidentally and now she is at the mercy of the court”.

The Bench replied, “She has carried the child for 24 weeks, why not wait some more weeks (till the delivery). We are rejecting your application”.

At the outset, the High Court had said it would not permit the woman to undergo medical termination as it virtually amounts to killing the foetus. “We will ensure that the girl is kept somewhere safe and she can deliver and go. There is a big queue for adoption,” the Bench assured.

“We will not permit you to kill that child. (We are) very sorry. This virtually amounts to killing (the foetus),” the Bench said noting that almost 24 out of 36 weeks of gestation were over.

The High Court clarified that it was not forcing the woman to raise the child. “We are not forcing her to raise the child. We will ensure that you go to a good hospital. Your whereabouts will not be known to anyone. Deliver the baby, please come back,” the High Court said.

“You ask the client. Everything will be looked after by the government of India or Delhi government or some good hospital…I am also offering to pay,” the Chief Justice said as he asked the counsel to seek instruction from the woman and come back.

When the case was taken up again after lunch break, the counsel said, “she refused to deliver the child”.

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