The Bombay High Court has ruled that a registered doctor can terminate a pregnancy, which has crossed 20-weeks period without permission from the court only if it possesses the risk of a woman’s life.

On Wednesday, in its judgement, a division bench of Justices MS Sonak and AS Oka said that the permission from either the Supreme Court of the High Court will have to be sought when a pregnancy is more than 20 weeks and the pregnant woman feels that its continuation would involve risk to her physical or mental health.

The justice bench also directed the Maharashtra Government to form medical boards at district levels within 3 months to examine pregnant women, who wish to terminate their pregnancy after its more than 20 weeks.

However, under the provisions of MTP (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act, a pregnancy that crossed over 20 weeks cannot be terminated.

The justice bench in its order has noted that there has been an increase in the number of the petition in the HC by women seeking to terminate their pregnancy either on grounds of foetus developed abnormalities or continuation of the pregnancy was caused them physical or mental anguish.

It continued that HC can permit women to undergo medical termination of pregnancy in contingencies even though it has exceeded 20 weeks period.

“In cases where a registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that termination of pregnancy, which has exceeded 20 weeks, is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, there is no necessity for even seeking any permission,” added the High Court.

It also suggested, “Thus, if a doctor is of the opinion that if the pregnancy is not medically terminated immediately the woman may die, then it is the duty of such a doctor to undertake the termination process and the MTP Act provisions will afford immunity to such doctors.”

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