Set up Medical boards as required under MTP Act: Bombay HC tells Govt
Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has been directed by the Bombay High Court to establish medical boards as required under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 in order to prevent the hardships caused to women seeking medical termination of their pregnancies. The bench of justices S.J. Kathawalla and Milind N. Jadhav noted, "Though required to constitute Medical...
Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has been directed by the Bombay High Court to establish medical boards as required under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 in order to prevent the hardships caused to women seeking medical termination of their pregnancies.
The bench of justices S.J. Kathawalla and Milind N. Jadhav noted, "Though required to constitute Medical Boards under Section 3(2C), the State of Maharashtra has not done so thus far. The failure of the State Government to do so not only causes hardship to women seeking medical termination of pregnancy, but also increases the number of Petitions filed for such purpose. The State of Maharashtra should therefore forthwith proceed to constitute Medical Boards, as the same will result in providing efficacious redressal to women seeking medical termination of pregnancy with foetal abnormalities."
It observed that the limitation to undergo medical termination of pregnancy is extended upto 24 weeks under Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021, adding that Section 3(2B) also notes an exception in situations of 'foetal abnormalities'.
The section states, "The provisions of sub-section (2) relating to the length of the pregnancy shall not apply to the termination of pregnancy by the medical practitioner where such termination is necessiated by the diagnosis of any of the substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by a Medical Board."
The court made this observation while hearing a writ petition of a Mumbai resident, who was 25 weeks pregnant and had moved the court seeking medical termination of her pregnancy on the ground that in her sonography reports, it is recorded that the foetus suffers from microcephaly.
The court had directed the Dean of J.J. Group of Hospitals, Mumbai to constitute a medical board comprising of the Dean of the said Hospital, Head of the Department (Gynecology), Professor and Head of Department of Pediatric / Cardiac Surgeon, Professor and Head of Department of Radiology and Head of Psychiatry Department, Professor and Head of Neurological Department and any other expert in the field as deemed appropriate by the dean to examine the woman and submit their report on 31st December, reports the Live Law.
Subsequently their submitted report stated that, "in view of severe microcephaly and potential mental retardation and cognitive affection" of the foetus and as the "the mother is anguished with the condition of fetus in utero", it noted "the termination of the affected foetus is advisable as per the potential morbidities."
The bench had observed, "microcephaly is a medical condition involving a smaller than normal head. Microcephaly may be present at birth or it may develop in the first few years of life; since brain growth is correlated with head growth, people with this disorder often have an intellectual disability, poor motor function, poor speech, abnormal facial features, seizures and dwarfism."
The bench opined that the continuation of the pregnancy would affect the mental health of the petitioner, and permitted the petitioner to undergo the procedure for medical termination of pregnancy.
It stated that the petitioner would be present at "Wadia Hospital to complete the requisite procedure of medical termination of her pregnancy under the guidance / supervision of Dr. Vandana Bansal" on 1st January, 2022.
Further it directed the medical practitioner to ensure the availability of all necessary facilities for saving the life of the new born if the child is born alive. It added, "In the event of the child being born alive and the Petitioner and her husband are not willing to take responsibility of such child, the State and its agencies will have to assume full responsibility for such child."
The court instructed the copy of the order to be forwarded to the Advocate General for further and prompt action in this regard.
Revu is currently pursuing her masters from University of Hyderabad. With a background in journalism, she joined Medical Dialogues in 2021.