Doctor can abort over 20-week foetus, but only to save mom's
In a landmark ruling, the Bombay high court on Wednesday said a registered doctor can terminate a pregnancy that has crossed the legal abortion limit of 20 weeks without the court's permission only if it is to save the life of the woman.

The HC, however, held that its permission still has to be sought when a pregnancy has exceeded 20 weeks and the woman "fears its continuation would involve grave injury to her physical or mental health or if there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped". "In such cases, the pregnant woman will have to seek permission of the high court and unless such permission is granted, no registered medical practitioner can terminate such pregnancy,'' held the bench of Justices Abhay Oka and M S Sanklecha on Wednesday.

The court held that given the rise in the number of cases coming before it for permission to terminate pregnancies beyond 20 weeks, it is expedient that the state government set up medical boards to assess such requests and called for formulation of policies to lay down proper procedures to govern the boards. "Since such matters are on the rise and since the resolution of such issues brooks no delay, we have, relying mainly upon SC decisions, attempted to suggest procedures and safeguards, which we propose to follow until the state formulates policies in such matters,'' said the bench.

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