The Bombay High Court last week allowed a married woman to terminate her 32-week pregnancy against the advice of a medical board of a Pune hospital, PTI reported.

The woman wanted to terminate her pregnancy after a sonography revealed the foetus had severe abnormalities. The medical board of Sassoon Hospital, however, opposed this saying the pregnancy is almost at its fag end.

In an order passed on January 20, a division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and SG Dige refused to accept the medical board’s recommendation.

“Given a severe foetal abnormality, the length of the pregnancy does not matter,” the High Court observed. “The petitioner has taken an informed decision. It is not an easy one. But that decision is hers, and hers alone to make. The right to choose is of the petitioner’s. It is not the right of the medical board.”

The bench said the medical board did not take into account the social and economic position of the woman and her husband.

“It ignores their milieu entirely,” the court added. “It does not even attempt to envision the kind of life, one with no quality at all to speak of, that the petitioner must endure for an indefinite future if the board’s recommendation is to be followed. The board really does only one thing: because late, therefore no. And that is plainly wrong.”

The woman had said that she cannot afford the expenses of a baby that would be born with physical and mental disabilities.

The judges said that not allowing the woman to terminate the pregnancy would amount to denial of right to dignity.

“In refusing termination only on the ground of delay, this court would not only be condemning the foetus to a less than optimal life but would also be condemning the mother to future that will almost certainly rob her of every positive attribute of parenthood,” the order added.

In December, the Delhi High Court also ruled that the choice of a mother is ultimate in pregnancy cases involving fetal abnormalities.

In 2021, the government had amended the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to allow several categories of women to seek abortions between 20 weeks of pregnancy to 24 weeks. Then last year, the Supreme Court had held that the law cannot discriminate between married and unmarried women.