The Bombay High Court has directed the state government to constitute medical boards on the basis of the amended Act on Medical Termination of Pregnancy so that women who seek abortions do not suffer.
A division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and Madhav Jamdar observed, “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 court directed that a copy of the order be sent to the State Advocate General for further and speedy action. It said, “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.”
The bench said that section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021 has extended the limit of medical termination of pregnancy from the earlier 20 weeks to 24 weeks. The bench further observed that Section 3(2B), in fact, creates an exception in cases of foetal abnormalities and does not limit such termination to a period of 24 weeks otherwise provided in the sub-section.
The court directed that the woman will be examined by a panel of doctors from Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, including the Dean of the Hospital, Head of Gynecology, Head of Pediatrics and Professor/Cardiac Surgeon, Head of Radiology and Professor, Head of Psychiatry, Department of Neurology Heads and professors. Any other experts in the field, such as deans, may be included as deemed fit.