This paper provides a critique of the legal insights and Court precedents which have shaped discussions on the legal challenges faced in pregnancy cases where the presence of foetal anomalies forces the parents to make difficult choices regarding the continuation of their pregnancies.
Anish Lakhanpal, Delhi High Court, New Delhi, India.
Aditya Gandotra, Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipatb Haryana, India.
Termination of pregnancies by itself is an extremely sensitive issue and is even characterized as an offence within Sections 312-316 of the Indian Penal Code. However, legally sanctioned exceptions have been created in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as the “MTP Act”). Whenever congenital malformations are detected in a foetus, the relaxation of the upper statutory limit set by the MTP Act becomes the subject of intense debate. When the permissible statutory period elapses, writ petitions to judicial forums may become the last refuge of couples who wish to terminate pregnancy.
Many experts question the legal legitimacy of such a relaxation since the time limit set by the statute is unambiguously precise with no scope for exceptions save for a few statutory conditions. However, the authors argue that there are certain eventualities in cases like these, which can form a class by itself and which the MTP Act doesn’t take into account. The authors shall proffer new medico-legal arguments using broader constitutional values and suggest changes in the MTP Act to keep it in consonance with newer conceptions of ‘mental health’ and ‘reproductive autonomy’.
It is stated at the outset that the purpose of this article is to further enrich the medical jurisprudence on pre-natal technologies by using principles of laws discussed in Courtroom decisions. The paper shall provide a critique of the legal insights and Court precedents which have shaped discussions on the legal challenges faced in pregnancy cases where the presence of foetal anomalies forces the parents to make difficult choices regarding the continuation of their pregnancies. It is maintained that the domain of this paper shall be limited to legal principles and decisions pertaining to the Indian jurisdiction. The technical and biological variables behind the causation of genetic disorders shall be beyond the scope of this paper.
Published in: Indian Journal of Law and Justice
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