The Bombay High Court permitted a 19-year-old woman to terminate her 25-week pregnancy resulting from a consensual relationship, reiterating that a partner is not a stakeholder in the woman's choice to exercise her reproductive right to terminate a pregnancy.

Considering the grave danger to the petitioner’s mental health and the social stigma associated with continuing the pregnancy, the bench allowed the termination, recognising her sovereign entitlement to make autonomous choices about her body. The Court also stated that the views of the parents as well as partners were not relevant in the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

A Division Bench of Justice N.R. Borkar and Justice Somasekhar Sundaresan observed, “Consequently, taking into account the explicit finding of grave psychological injury from the continuation of pregnancy, and the fact that the Petitioner is physically fit for termination, it appears to us that the Petitioner’s sovereign entitlement to make an autonomous choice about her body and to exercise it in the form of opting for medical termination, lends itself to acceptance.

Advocate Tejesh Dande represented the petitioner, while Advocate Purnima Awasthi appeared for the respondents.

The petitioner’s request for termination was initially supported by a private medical report indicating no abnormalities with the fetus. However, the Court noted that the report failed to consider the petitioner’s mental health. Consequently, the Court directed the Medical Board of the hospital to conduct an assessment in compliance with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTPA).

The petitioner had pleaded that the continuation of pregnancy would run the risk of “maternal mortality” as she was just above 19 years of age. She submitted that she was from a lower income group and the primary reason for which the termination was pleaded was due to the grave psychological effect of the pregnancy and social stigma attached to it.

The psychological status of the Petitioner was at the heart of the matter. The Medical Board’s report indicated that if a child were born despite the termination procedure, there would be a high possibility of immediate and long-term physical and mental disabilities, which would severely jeopardize the child's quality of life.

The Court referred to the Supreme Court’s decision in A (Mother of X) v. State of Maharashtra which upheld the medical termination of pregnancy as a fundamental right. The said judgment established that there was no scope for interference by the family or the partner of a pregnant person in matters of reproductive choice.

Considering that the Petitioner is an adult (aged over 19 years) and is entitled to her own sovereign decision for reproductive autonomy, the views of her parents or of her partner are not relevant, in terms of the law declared by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the judgement referred to above,” the Court remarked.

Consequently, the Bench held, “the Petitioner having been found to be exposed to the risk of grave psychological injury should the termination not be effected, and having been found physically fit for termination of pregnancy, is hereby given permission for undergoing the stipulated procedures in accordance with the applicable protocols for effecting such termination.

Accordingly, the High Court disposed of the petition.

Cause Title: X.Y.Z. v. The Dean of B.J. Government Medical College And Sassoon Hospital & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024:BHC-AS:22704-DB)


Petitioner: Advocate Tejesh Dande

Respondents: Advocate Purnima Awasthi; AGP Kavita Solunke

Click here to read/download the Order