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KOCHI: Economic backwardness or social stigma cannot be a reason for allowing medical termination of pregnancy (MTP), the high court has held.

The decision by Justice VG Arun was after considering a petition by a 21-year-old Muslim woman, who had passed Plus Two, seeking MTP of a seven-month-old foetus. This was after her live-in relationship with a person named Sanjay since November last year failed as he allegedly rescinded from the promise to convert to Islam and marry her. He used to assault her when drunk and drove her off from his house in September this year, her plea said.

At the high court, the woman contended that her family is economically backward and the birth of a child prior to her marriage will adversely affect her future as also the dignity of the family.

A medical board constituted on a directive issued by the court had ruled out MTP as there were no foetal or maternal complications. Even if MTP is conducted, there is a 50-60% chance of survival of the newborn but there would be an increased risk of neonatal morbidities and adverse neuro-developmental issues for the baby, the medical board reported.

After noticing the adverse medical board report, the court said the Supreme Court had in a 2009 judgment (Suchita Srivastava and Another vs Chandigarh Administration) held that a woman’s right to make a reproductive choice is a dimension of her personal liberty. The question is whether such liberty can go against the provisions of the MTP Act when neither the pregnant woman nor the foetus have any medical issues, the court said. As per the 2021 amendment, MTP is not permissible when the pregnancy exceeds 24 weeks unless for medical reasons, the court pointed out.


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