Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Supreme Court to hear case related to termination of 24-week pregnancy on August 10

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The Supreme Court will hear on August 10, the case of a 25-year-old pregnant woman, who terminated her 24-week-old pregnancy.

The Apex Court had earlier directed the AIIMS board to give a go ahead for the abortion, if needed.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati began her arguments on the matter. She said, “A very detailed discussion was held on whether judicial separation of a woman should be added and it was added as a very vulnerable category.

“This is not about married or unmarried. Twenty-four weeks is not easy as its about the well-being of the woman herself. This cannot be decided on an individual basis but has to be decided qua all,” she added.

The Apex Court said, “Beyond 20 weeks there may be danger to mother. Then no one is saying you must medically terminate even to protect her autonomy. But in this case abortion was done as there was no risk

“Rule 3(d) excludes an unmarried woman who may be vulnerable or exploited. Then how do we bring it in?

“If we strike down definition between unmarried woman below 20 weeks and above 24 weeks it wont help. How do we craft the judgement?

“Mental health is important. If we strike down words from clause A explanation 1 then benefit of termination on ground of mental anguish can be extended to even above 20 weeks. Then rules will not be restrictive. That is a way to get around it

“The Legislature has not used the word husband, but it has used the word partner, so it concerns outside marriage as well. Thus, an unmarried girl who suffers unwanted pregnancy, why should she be excluded from abortion at 24 weeks when married is allowed? Danger is equal.

“We can just strike down that word in clause a exception 1 for being manifestly arbitrary. You can give us written submissions on this point, address us on Monday and then we will reserve the judgement.”

ASG Bhati said, “Yes obliged milord. We will show what weighed with experts.

Justice Chandrachud said, “You have a talented bunch of all women juniors, so give us a note, of course, the stand of Union as well. This case caused me grave amount of intellectual anguish and now, we think how to craft the verdict as it has to speak intellectually.

“An unmarried woman who suffers a pregnancy beyond 20 weeks can suffer the same mental anguish like the married woman. We have to also move ahead when there is so much development around this. We are responsible for the jurisprudential evolution,” he added.

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