What’s wrong with India’s abortion laws?


GenderAnd Development: The tricky debate on Abortion: Where the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act conflicts with two other laws?

Nandini Rathi

 

This August, the denial of abortion to the 10-year-old rape survivor from Chandigarh by the Supreme Court made headlines, shocking the country and leaving the medical community split in opinion. While the young girl has been recuperating at home from her C-section delivery and from what could only have been mental and physical trauma, the onslaught of women and girls seeking permissions for late-term abortion to High Courts and the Supreme Court continues. On November 22, PTI reported that a 12-year old rape survivor from Khargone, Madhya Pradesh gave birth under C-section after her abortion plea was rejected by the High Court, citing her age and risk, earlier in September. This little girl’s pregnancy had been first discovered more than three months ago in August. While it was then just over 20 weeks, following the letter of law, abortion had been treated a foregone option and denied.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971 permits abortions after consultation with one doctor up to 12 weeks. Between 12 to 20 weeks, medical opinion of two doctors is required. Further, only a registered allopathic physician in a registered facility is authorised to conduct the procedure. Beyond the 20 weeks ceiling, exceptions are legally permissible only if continuation of pregnancy poses a threat to the mother’s life.

The 46-year-old law has been under fire from doctors and lawyers for failing to move ahead with the times. There are several issues. The gestational age limit of 20 weeks on abortions is today understood as arbitrary and grossly outdated by gynaecologists and obstetricians across the board. Rare foetal abnormalities can be detected via ultrasound only around this period and the mother is usually past the 20-week milestone by the time these can be confirmed. Further, the Act does not recognise a woman’s choice in asking for an abortion, as legally she remains at the disposal of a physician’s judgment even in the early stages of pregnancy.

THE INFLUX OF COURT PETITIONS 

While MTP Act itself does not direct anyone to approach the court for permission to terminate pregnancy post-20 weeks, the recent few years have seen a rush of court petitions seeking permission for abortion. Often these have been either rape survivors with unwanted pregnancies or couples who found out about foetal abnormalities that are either incompatible with survival or posed the risk of substantial handicap to the baby upon birth. The curious aspect is why these cases are suddenly coming to court with increasing frequency only now, despite the fact that the MTP law is unchanged, and issues of foetal abnormalities as well as rape-related unwanted pregnancies in minors are something doctors have always dealt with in professional capacity.

“If you ask any obstetrician in this country who has practised for 10-20 years, you will find that they have always terminated pregnancies of advanced [post 20 weeks] durations on obstetric and medical grounds,” says Dr. Nozer Sheriar, former Chairperson of the MTP Committee and secretary general at Federation of Gynaecologists and Obstetrician Societies of India (FOGSI).

Advance prenatal diagnoses, which enable foetal abnormalities to be discovered typically between 20-24 weeks, became routine around two decades ago. Managing the aftermath was not considered by most gynaecologists as traditional MTPs. Until a few years ago, most gynaecologists all over the country were managing abnormal patient pregnancies, along with termination if needed by taking a medical call over the matter, after counselling the patient and with her written permission.

The gynaecologist/obstetrician of the patient maybe in the best position to make a medical decision based on risk, in some cases. But the Supreme Court and High Court judgments over the last few years have been inconsistent and ad-hoc on these matters; they have both permitted as well as turned down various women requesting abortions and hence now doctors are unsure about their decision-making territory. “Because of all these cases coming up, physicians are also confused as to whether to term them as MTPs or obstetric decisions. I think clarity is urgently needed in this matter,” says Dr. Jaydeep Tank, a Mumbai-based gynaecologist and obstetrician and Deputy Secretary General of FOGSI. He personally feels that such cases should not strictly fall under the MTP Act as they could interfere with the obstetrician’s decision making.

ABORTION LAW, ITS RUN-IN WITH POCSO

A pregnant minor, under the MTP Act, can legally receive an abortion with the consent of a legal guardian. Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, any sexual activity under the age of 18, even if consensual, comes under the scrutiny of law. Thus, if any adolescent goes to a doctor seeking any services related to reproductive health, including abortion, the doctor is mandatorily required to report that to the authorities. So while MTP Act regulations lay down a careful confidentiality procedure for the doctor to protect the identity of the abortion-seeking girl, POCSO on the other hand necessitates disclosure to the authorities. “A lot of 17-year-olds, who would have gone to a doctor because that would have been the right way to get an abortion, suddenly now think ‘if I go to the doctor, the police will be informed. So maybe I am better off somewhere else’,” Dr. Sheriar explains.

The situation has became more dire, after the Supreme Court last month got rid of the exception for child brides and increased the age of consent to 18, regardless of marital status. While the intention behind the POCSO provision is well meaning, an estimated 47 percent of women in India are still married under the age of 18 and hence considerable sexual activity does take place among minors. The conflict between the laws results in a collateral damage where adolescents may be forced to turn to unsafe abortions.

ABORTION LAW AND SEX DETERMINATION

Another law that trips doctors from performing genuine abortions is the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act of 1994 (PC-PNDT) which criminalises sex determination of the foetus during ultrasound. Often, law-enforcing authorities feel that if they indiscriminately crackdown on abortions in general, they will be able to prevent sex-selective ones and female foeticide, Dr. Tank explains.

With a lot of attention and pressure from authorities due to PC-PNDT, doctors are wary and not doing what they initially did with a clear conscience, says Dr. Sheriar. As one senior gynaecologist running a private hospital said, “Even though I have performed an abortion for a genuine reason, in case the aborted foetus turns out to be a female, who would want to get caught up in a cycle of giving explanations in government offices” or worse, risk having their establishment discredited over such an accusation.

Given the present circumstances, doctors feel that urgent clarifications are required on the matter because when providers of safe and legal abortions turn women away, the remaining gap is filled by unqualified persons and quacks. “Just because of a fear of misuse, creating no mechanism and giving no relief to genuine people is wrong,” says gynaecologist and health rights activist Dr. Nikhil Datar.

Only a handful of women–make it to the courts, where they currently face additional trauma due to delays of legal proceedings, all the while with a pregnancy that is steadily advancing. Asked what happens to all the other women and where they go, Dr. Datar says, “No one knows”.

IN COLD STORAGE: MTP ACT OF 2014

A historic abortion legislation like India’s MTP Act in the 70s ensured that only law and medical opinion, as opposed to any religious dogma, prevailed in matters of pregnancy terminations. It also necessitated the consent of the pregnant woman alone, assuming she was a major. But a progressive law alone did not guarantee access to safe abortions. 10 women die everyday in India due to unsafe abortions and many more suffer from complications as a result of it.

“The cases that have come to the courts and in the spotlight of media are in the direction of foetal abnormalities and rape pregnancies. But that is a very small percentage out of all women deprived of safe abortions,” says Vinoj Manning, Executive Director of Delhi based non-profit Ipas Development Foundation. Currently, 50 percent of all abortions performed in India are estimated to put women’s health and lives to undue risk and that is above all due to an acute shortage of trained providers. This is one of the issues that the MTP Act Amendment bill, proposed in 2014, aimed to solve by authorizing AYUSH doctors, trained nurses and auxiliary nurse-midwives (ANMs) – after mandatory training — for performing non-surgical abortions via pills. The bill is however in cold storage and not taken up by the parliament since October 2014.

In addition to the fact that a woman’s right to abortion is a necessary condition for her reproductive autonomy, there is also a dire need to keep the woman’s needs at the center from a public health perspective. As Dr. Suneeta Mittal, Director and HOD in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Fortis Medical Research Institute Gurgaon, who has worked in women’s healthcare for nearly 40 years, said in a recent panel discussion, “No legal barrier, no religious barrier, no administrative barrier and no political barrier can stop a woman from getting an abortion, if she decides not to continue [her pregnancy]. By refusing her, you are pushing her towards unsafe abortions”.

SOURCE-  Indian Express

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Himachal HC allows rape survivor to abort 32-week fetus


Anand Bodh| TNN |

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SHIMLA: The Himachal Pradesh high court has allowed abortion of a 32-week-old fetus of a 19-year-old rape survivor, who has mild to moderate mental retardation.

A division bench of Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary and Justice Vivek Singh Thakur directed the medical superintendent of Kamla Nehru Hospital in Shimla to arrange for termination of the teenager’s pregnancy under supervision of a medical board constituted by the court.

The law allows medical abortion till 20 weeks of pregnancy, unless mother’s life is at risk. The Supreme Court had in July denied permission to a 10-year-old rape survivor to terminate her 32-week pregnancy, but had recently made exception and allowed abortion at 24 weeks due to life threatening condition.

The bench also directed the hospital to preserve the DNA of the fetus so that it could be used during the course of investigation, inquiry and trial in the rape case registered in Kullu district.

On October 6, the court had directed that the petitioner be examined by a medical board, comprising at least five doctors and headed by head of the department of gynaecology of any of the state-level hospitals.

Malformed baby born to Mumbai woman denied abortion by SC dies


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MUMBAI: A 28-year-old Diva resident who was denied permission by the Supreme Court in March to abort her severely malformed foetus, watched her baby die, said family friends. The news of the child’s death comes just as a 13-year-old rape survivor’s plea for abortion beyond the permissible 20-week time limit was filed in the SC on Wednesday. Last month, the Supreme Court had turned down a plea for a 10-year-old rape survivor to terminate her 32-week pregnancy.

“The child passed away around a fortnight back,” they said. The child was born on July 1 at civic-run KEM Hospital, Parel, which gave a medical report that formed the basis of the court’s refusal. The woman is said to be in anguish and away in her native village at the moment. Her distraught father said he no longer wanted to speak on the issue.

The Diva woman’s plea was turned down on a technicality that the child would be born alive. In her petition, she mentioned the plight of her severely handicapped and bed-ridden brother as one of the reasons for seeking abortion. She told TOI in March she had helped her parents, who live in Dahisar, take care of her brother. She used to carry her brother to and from the bathroom. He was so sensitive to sounds that Diwali would be a no-fun period for the entire family; even sounds of crackers bursting would trigger seizures in him. She even told the KEM medical team that she didn’t want a disabled child as she saw the sacrifices and troubles her family has been through.

Gynaecologist Dr Nikhil Datar, who helped the woman move the SC, confirmed the baby’s death. Underlining the need to extend the deadline for medical termination beyond the present 20 weeks, Dr Datar said, “An abnormality, whether detected early or late, carries the same prognosis. Just because an arbitrary or unscientific deadline has been crossed doesn’t mean the outcome will change. There is no point in further traumatising a woman, the baby as well as an entire family by prolonging life.”

The medical fraternity has been demanding an increase in the abortion limit to 24 weeks. Dr. Bipin Pandit, a gynaecologist, said, “Many foetal abnormalities can be diagnosed only after 20 weeks. Certain deformities can be diagnosed earlier, but by the time the family comes to terms with the issue, they near the 20-week deadline. The only way to resolve such situations is to increase the abortion limit to 24 weeks.” Dr. Pandit added that the drugs to induce abortion in the second trimester have considerably improved and have become safe and more accessible.

Dr. Pandit said women who are forced to deliver malformed babies and undergo the trauma of seeing them die, are vulnerable to postpartum depression.

He said, “It is very simple. They are expecting a bundle of joy and suddenly someone tells them that there is a problem. But after diagnosing the problem, the solution has been denied to the woman. Is it fair?”

Dr Subha Sri B, chairperson of Chennai-based NGO CommonHealth, pointed out when a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy, it is not a frivolous decision. “It is not as if a woman wakes up one morning and decides to terminate. She may be forced by circumstances, but she is ultimately the one who will face consequences of the birth,” she said. Moreover, the state doesn’t provide any support for women and their special needs children-a point the Diva woman, who hails from a humble background, had raised.

TOI and The Hindu

More than 100 Activists condemn PAC recommendation of compulsory sex determination tests


 PAC REPORT

Mumbai – We the undersigned representatives of women’s and health rights organizations strongly condemn the recommendations of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly making pre-natal sex determination and tracking of pregnant women mandatory to prevent  sex selection.

These recommendations are grossly violative of the PcPNDT Act itself, and will impinge upon the MTP Act as well. It is ironical that such a recommendation is being made in Maharashtra, which pioneered the law to curb sex selection after a long campaign by women and health activists that linked the use of sex-selection and sex-detection technologies to gender based discrimination and thereafter to  the declining child sex ratio in India .

It is shocking that the proposal is being mooted at a time when yet another racket of sex selection has recently come to light in Mhaisal, Sangli, which clearly exposes the nexus between unscrupulous medical professionals and corrupt government health officials in allowing illegal sex determination to proliferate in the state.

It is quite clear that such a proposal is intended to absolve doctors and to shift the burden to the shoulders of pregnant women. The 2003 amendments to the 1994 PcPNDT Act recognized the lack of autonomy faced by women and had specifically kept the pregnant woman out of the ambit of the Act. This new proposal will only result in a twenty-four hour surveillance of pregnant women both within the family and by the state authorities. It will unnecessarily target every woman bearing a female foetus, and will link any abortion that such a woman has (for any reason) to sex selection. This will adversely impact women’s already poor access to safe abortion.  It will fuel a proliferation of illegal facilities for getting rid of unwanted female foetuses.

PAC suggestions of  surveillance is violation of our fundamental right to privacy and victimization of the woman when the focus of surveillance should be providers who are the key link to practice of sex determination and sex selection.

We demand that the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly rejects the recommendations of the PAC. We also demand stringent implementation of the present Act, which has clearly acted as a deterrent wherever it has been used effectively.

गर्भलिंग चाचणी सक्तीचे करण्याची अजब शिफारस करणाऱ्या लोकलेखा समितीचा कडक निषेध

लोकलेखा समितीने महाराष्ट्र विधान सभेला सादर केलेल्या आपल्या अहवालात राज्यात लिंग निदान रोखण्यासाठी गर्भलिंग चाचणी सक्तीची करून सर्व गरोदर महिलांवर पाळत ठेवण्याची अजब शिफारस केली आहे, त्याचा आम्ही खाली सही करणाऱ्या महिला व आरोग्य हक्क संघटना तीव्र निषेध करीत आहोत.

मुळात अशी शिफारस लिंग निदान प्रतिबंधक (पी.सी.पी.एन.डी.टी.) कायद्याचे घोर उल्लंघन करणारी असून, गर्भपाताशी संबंधित एम.टी.पी. कायद्यावर देखील त्याचे विपरीत परिणाम होतील. स्त्रियांशी टोकाचा भेदभाव करणारी लिंगनिदानाची पद्धत आणि त्यासाठी वापरण्यात येणाऱ्या तंत्रज्ञानामुळे भारतात ०-६ वर्ष वयोगटातील मुलींचे प्रमाण कसे घटत आहे, ह्या गंभीर मुद्द्याकडे प्रथम महाराष्ट्रातील महिला आणि आरोग्य हक्क कार्यकर्त्यांनी लक्ष वेधले. त्यांनी दीर्घ काळ चालवलेल्या मोहिमेचा परिणाम म्हणून महाराष्ट्रात प्रथम लिंग-निवड प्रतिबंधात्मक कायदा मंजूर झाला, ह्याचा विसर लोकलेख समितीला पडलेला दिसतो.

म्हैसाळ (सांगली) आणि नाशिक शहरात अलीकडेच उजेडास आलेल्या बेकायदेशीर लिंग निदानाच्या प्रकरणातून अप्रामाणिक वैदकीय व्यावसायिक आणि भ्रष्ट सरकारी अधिकारी ह्यांच्यातल्या संगनमताने राज्यात बेकायदेशीर लिंगचाचणीची केंद्र कशीं फोफावली आहेत, हे समोर आलेले असताना, अशी शिफारस करणे अधिक धक्कादायक आहे.

प्रत्यक्षात लिंग निदान करणाऱ्या डॉक्टरांना सुट देऊन, गरोदर स्त्रीवर सर्व जबाबदारी टाकण्याचा हा निषेधार्य प्रकार आहे. १९९४च्या लिंग निवड प्रतिबंधक कायद्यात २००३ मध्ये सुधारणा करताना स्त्रियांना निर्णय स्वातंत्र्य नसल्याची वस्तुस्थिती लक्षात घेऊन, गरोदर स्त्रीला कायद्याच्या कक्षेतून काढले होते. ह्या नव्या प्रस्तावामुळे गरोदर स्त्री वर कुटुंबांतर्गत आणि शासकीय पातळीवरची चोवीस तासांची पाळत सहन करावी लागेल. स्त्री-गर्भ असलेल्या प्रत्येक गरोदर महिलेला विनाकारण लक्ष्य बनवून, तिने कोणत्याही कारणास्तव गर्भपात करून घेतला तरी त्याचा संबंध लिंग निदानाशी जोडला जाईल. स्त्रियांना अगोदरच सुरक्षित गर्भपाताची सेवा मिळणे अवघड झाले असताना, नको असलेले स्त्री गर्भ नष्ट करणारी एक बेकायदेशीर यंत्रणाच ह्यामुळे फोफावणार आहे.

अशा पद्धतीने स्त्रियांवर पाळत ठेवण्याची ही लोकलेखा समितीची शिफारस स्त्रियांच्या खाजगी आयुष्यात हस्तक्षेप करणारी आणि मुलभूत अधिकारांवर घाला घालणारी आहे. उलट बेकायदेशीर  पद्धतीने लिंग निदान आणि लिंग निवड करणारी केंद्र चालवणाऱ्यांवर सरकारने पाळत ठेवून त्यांचे उच्चाटन करण्याची आवश्यकता आहे.

महाराष्ट्र विधान सभेने लोकलेखा समितीच्या ह्या शिफारशीला स्पष्ट नकार द्यावा अशी  मागणी आम्ही करीत आहोत. जिथे पी.सी.पी.एन.डी.टी. कायद्याचा प्रभावी उपयोग केला गेला, तिथे लिंग निदान रोखण्यासाठी मदत झाली असा आजपर्यंतचा अनुभव असून, कायद्याची महाराष्ट्रात कडक अंमलबजावणी करावी अशी मागणी आम्ही करीत आहोत.

Endorsed

Organziations 

Forum Against Sex Selection (FASS)

Janwadi Mahila Sanghatana (AIDWA)

Mahila Sarvgrameen Utkarsh Mandal (MASUM)

Forum for Medical Ethics Society

Forum Against Oppression of Women  (FAOW)

Jan Swasthya Abhiyan- Mumbai

National Allaince of Materal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR)

Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group

LABIA –  A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Bombay

Maharashtra Mahila Arogya Hakka Parishad

 National Alliance of People’s Movements– (NAPM)
Point of View, Mumbai

SAMYAK, Pune

CEHAT, Mumbai

Sruti Disability Rights Centee

Saheli Women’s Resource Centre

Individuals

  1. Kamayani Bali Mahabal,  (FASS)
  2. Kiran Moghe , (AIDWA)
  3. Sonya Gill, (AIDWA)
  4. Ravi Duggal, Health activist
  5. Manisha Gupte ,  Women and Health activist
  6. Adv Indira Jaising, Lawyers Collective
  7. Lakshmi Menon . Womens Health Movement
  8. Brinelle D’souza – Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  9. Farah Naqvi, Writer & Activist, Delhi
  10. Dr B Ekbal ,  Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Kerala
  11. Dr. Nizara Hazarika , Associate Professor, Sonapur College,Assam
  12. Gabriele Dietrich, Pennurimai Iyakkam, TN
  13. Sunita Bandewar, FMES and IJME
  14. Amulya Nidhi , .Health Activist Madhya Pradesh
  15. Dr. Sylvia Karpagam, Public health doctor and researcher
  16. Saswati Ghosh, Associate Professor and hod, Economics, City College (under Calcutta University)
  17. Nisha Biswas
  18. Abha Bhaiya
  19. Nivedita Menon, JNU
  20. Dyuti
  21. Johanna Lokhande
  22. Madhu Mehra, Partners for Law in Development
  23. Ulka Mahajan,  Social activist
  24. Mary E. John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS)
  25. Virginia Saldanha, Indian Christian Women’s Movement,
    Manak Matiyani (Executive Director)- YP Foundation
  26. Vinita Sahasranaman (Director of Programs and Advocacy)- YP Foundation
  27. Souvik Pyne (Advocacy Officer)m YP foundation
  28. Nandita Shah, Akshara
  29. Jyoti Mhapsekar, Stree Mukti Sanghathana
  30. Dr Kamaxi Bhate, FASS
  31. Adv Manisha Tulpule
  32. Rashmi Divekar
  33. Urmila Salunkhe, Akshara
  34. Prasanna Invally, Pune
  35. Kalpana mehta. Manasi Swasthya Sansthan, Indore
  36. Chayanika Shah- LABIA
  37. Anagha Sarpotdar
  38. Chhaya Datar
  39. Bishakha Dutta , Point of View
  40. Meena Seshu, Sangram
  41. Hema Pisal, MASUM
  42. Anand Pawar, SAMYAK
  43. Ravindra R P – Member, Drafting Committees (Mah. PNDT Act, PNDT Act, PCPNDT Act)
  44. Jaya Menon, Women Networking
  45. Sanober Keshwaar
  46. Vijay Hiremath
  47. Shalini Mahajan, LABIA
  48. Rohini Hensman, writer and activist
  49. Lubna Duggal , Forum for Medical Ethics Society
  50. Narendra  Gupta, Prayas
  51. Aapurv Jain, Gender rights activist
  52. Burnad Fatima- SRED
  53.  Sandhya Gautam, NAMHHR
  54. Jashodhara Dasgupta – Sahayog
  55. Sarojini – Sama
  56. Leni Chaudhuri, JSA
  57. Anuradha Pati
  58. Anita Ghai –  Feminsit  and Disbaility Rights Activist
  59. Ritambhara, Nazariya
  60. Preet Manjusha, SAMYAK
  61. Neeraj Malik
  62. Sejal Dand, ANANDI
  63. E.Premadas- CHSJ
  64. Suhas Kolhekar- NAPM
  65. Sitaram Shelar
  66. Sneha Giridhari, SWISSAID, India
  67. Sapana, BGVS
  68. Brinda Bose, JNU
  69. Reena Martins, Mumbai
  70. Hasina Khan, Bebaak Collective
  71. Pouru Wadia, SNEHA
  72. Vibhuti Patel, SNDT
  73. Kajal Jain,MASUM,Pune
  74. Mohan Rao, JNU
  75. Suneeta Dhar, activist
  76. Vasavi Kiro
  77. Abhijit Das,CHSJ
  78. Vivekanand Ojha
  79. Jaya Sagade , activist
  80. Ujwala kadrekar
  81. Uma V Chandru, WSS
  82. Archana More ,Karve Institute of Social Work
  83. Pradnya Shende
  84. Shakuntala Bhalerao, JSA
  85. Shubhangi Deshpande
  86. Vrinda Grover
  87. Subhash Mendhapurkar, SUTRA
  88. Manmohan Sharma,  health activist
  89. Noorjehan  Safia Niaz, BMMA
  90. Dolphy D’souza, Convenor, Police Reforms Watch
  91. Adv Vijay Hiremath
  92.  Nita Shirali, activist
  93. Saumya Uma
  94. Sugandhi Francis
  95. Snehal
  96. Kranti
  97. Yasmeen, awwaze- niswan
  98. Aruna Burte
  99. Shobha, Stree Mukti Sanghathana
  100. Mukta Srivastava, NAPM
  101. Milind Ranade
  102. Prof. Ujwala Masdekar, faculty of Karve Institute of social service
  103. Panchali Ray. Jadavpur University. Kolkata.
  104. Sonal Shukla, Vacha
  105. Naureen, SNEHA
  106. Richa Minocha , Simla
  107. Jeevika Shiv, ANANDI
  108. Radhika Desai, Hyderabad
  109. Seema Kulkarni, SOPPECOM
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Telangana: After 9-year fight, woman gets Rs 1 lakh for botched IVF


U SUDHAKAR REDDY

The complainant alleged that she was admitted to the test tube baby centre on September 4, 2007 for IVF treatment.
The complaint was filed by V. Nagamani, wife of Uma Venkata Rao, a resident of Khammam town, against Dr Muvva Lakshmi Rajeshwari of the Rohit Test Tube Baby Centre in the town.
The complaint was filed by V. Nagamani, wife of Uma Venkata Rao, a resident of Khammam town, against Dr Muvva Lakshmi Rajeshwari of the Rohit Test Tube Baby Centre in the town.
Hyderabad: The Khammam District Consumer Forum has awarded compensation of Rs 1 lakh to a woman who alleged medical negligence in a case of in-vitro fertilisation that led to her developing a heterotrophic pregnancy (where one foetus develops in the fallopian tube and another in the uterus). The ruling was given after nine years.

The complaint was filed by V. Nagamani, wife of Uma Venkata Rao, a resident of Khammam town, against Dr Muvva Lakshmi Rajeshwari of the Rohit Test Tube Baby Centre in the town.
The complainant alleged that she was admitted to the test tube baby centre on September 4, 2007 for IVF treatment. The doctors told her that she had no capacity to release proper eggs and if she can obtain eggs from a donor, she would have a chance to become pregnant.

The procedure was accordingly done and in time, her pregnancy was confirmed. But one day, she experienced giddiness and was shifted to Rohit Test Tube Centre and after being advised by doctors there, she was shifted to Mamata General Hospital who diagnosed an ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo attaches outside the uterus). Due to the rupture of the fallopian tube, Ms Nagamani began bleeding. After a week the foetus in the uterus was also dead.

The complainant had spent Rs 1.7 lakh on IVF treatment and Rs 25,000 for bills at Mamata Hospital and Rs 30,000 over transportation and other charges. Rohit Test Tube Centre argued before the Forum that the scan report did not reveal that the complainant had a heterotrophic pregnancy, which is very rare, and they were not to blame.

But the Forum said Dr Rajeswari of Rohit Test Tube Centre did not clarify why she did not provide treatment in her hospital, particularly in an emergency. Any failure to render medical help is against ethics of a medical practitioner. The Forum also quoted medical journals as saying that most heterotrophic pregnancies occur as a result of IVF.

Expert speaks
Heterotrophic pregnancy is definitely a rare development. Women with pelvic inflammatory disease also develop it at times. This is one of the associated complications of IVF. When embryo develops in the fallopian tube, it is dangerous to the health of the woman and leads to emergency situation. It is true that it is difficult to diagnose. I don’t think doctors of the test tube centre were negligent in this aspect— Dr B Uma Devi, fertility specialist, and retired professor from Gandhi Hospital.http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/090217/telangana-after-9-year-fight-woman-gets-rs-1-lakh-for-botched-ivf.html

Supreme Court permits termination of pregnancy at 24 weeks


 

Supreme Court | (File Photo/PTI)

MUMBAI: The Supreme Court permitted a 22-year-old woman in her 24th week of pregnancy to undergo termination of pregnancy after medical reports found the foetus to be without a skull.

The woman had found out about the defect in the 21st week of gestation when she had a sonography done at a private clinic in the western suburbs of Mumbai.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, abortion is legal in India only up to 20 weeks of pregnancy provided it involves a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or poses a threat of grave injury to physical or mental health, or involves a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities.

Recently, in a rare judgment, the Supreme Court permitted a rape survivor to terminate her pregnancy at 24 weeks.

The Supreme Court had asked the same committee of doctors from KEM Hospital that had given its opinion in the rape survivor’s case in July 2016, to look into the current case.

An amendment drafted in 2014 to a 1971 Act sought to increase the abortion time limit from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. Additionally, the draft bill also recommends that termination be allowed without a time limit in cases where doctors detect a foetal anomaly.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/jan/16/supreme-court-permits-termination-of-pregnancy-at-24-weeks-1560127.html

Women Should Be Allowed To Opt Out Of Unwanted Pregnancy Irrespective Of The Reason: Bombay HC


“The right to control their own body and fertility and motherhood choices should be left to the women alone. “

ALEX LEE / REUTERS

MUMBAI –In a significant order that endorses a woman’s “sole right over her own body” and her consequent right to “choose or not to choose motherhood,” the Bombay High Court has held that the scope of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act must extend to the “mental health” of a woman and that she be allowed to opt out of an unwanted pregnancy irrespective of the reason.

 

Endorsing the right of a woman to “lead a life of her choice”, the Bombay High Court has held that the scope of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act should extend to the “mental health” of a woman and she should be “allowed to opt out of an unwanted pregnancy irrespective of the reason”.

A division bench of Justices VK Tahilramani and Mridula Bhatkar on Monday said, the benefits of the Act must be extended to not just married women but also to those women who “stay with their partners as married couples in live-in relationships”.

The court maintained that though the Act provided for a woman to undergo abortion if she was pregnant for less than 12 weeks and with the consent of two medical practitioners if she was pregnant for 12 to 20 weeks, in cases where the pregnancy posed a risk to the health of a woman or to the foetus, she must be allowed to undergo abortion during the same timeline even if there was no risk to her “physical health”.

 

 

 

The court made the observation while taking suo motu (on its own) cognizance of a news report about pregnant women prisoners who were not taken to hospitals, despite informing the jail authorities of their wish to terminate pregnancy.

 

“Pregnancy takes place within the body of a woman and has a profound impact on her health, mental well-being and life. Thus, how she wants to deal with this pregnancy must be a decision she, and she alone, can make,” the bench said.

“The right to control their own body and fertility and motherhood choices should be left to the women alone. Let us not lose sight of the basic right of women: the right to autonomy and decide what to do with their own bodies, including whether or not to get pregnant and stay pregnant.

“This right emerges from her right to live with dignity as a human being in society and protected as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the judges said.

“Not allowing a woman to terminate her pregnancy amounts to grave injury to her mental health,” they added.

The bench also passed certain directions to make it easier for women prisoners to access health facilities, including the right to medical termination of pregnancy.

Also on HuffPost India.

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