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Bombay High Court: Domestic Violence Ground For Abortion Of Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is supposedly one of the most amazing times of a woman’s life. Especially when both the partners are eager to welcome the new member into their lives. But not everyone’s pregnancy journey is the same. Where on one side there are women who are pampered and taken care of by their husbands. On the other hand, there are husbands who subject their pregnant wives to domestic violence. And domestic violence is so severe that the wife is forced to abort the fetus rather than to bring up him/her into such an environment. One such case was presented in front of the Bombay High Court (High Court) and the court permitted the pregnant woman to abort the child on the grounds of domestic violence. 

Recently, the Bombay High Court bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Madhav Jamdar passed a judgment that allowed a 22-year-old woman to abort her 23-week-old healthy fetus on the grounds of domestic violence. The Bombay High Court observed that domestic violence had a severe impact on the woman’s mental health and that is a valid ground for aborting her pregnancy. 

While passing the judgment, the Bombay High Court referred and stated the reproductive rights of a woman as noted by the WHO. The woman who was to abort her pregnancy due to domestic violence was also examined by a panel of experts from J J Hospital, Mumbai.

The panel observed that although the 22-year-old woman has a healthy fetus, she herself has gone through a lot of mental trauma and the continuation of her pregnancy would aggravate her trauma. And so they advised the Bombay High Court to let the woman abort her pregnancy. 

The woman also stated in her plea to the Bombay High Court that her husband and she were getting a divorce. And she wanted to abort her pregnancy. 

The Bombay High Court allowed the woman to abort her pregnancy and stated, “if contraception failure leading to pregnancy can be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman, can it be said that a pregnant woman suffering from domestic violence would not face grave injury to her mental health if pregnancy is allowed to continue in the face of continuing domestic violence with a grim foreseeable future?’ referring to the reproductive rights of women as envisaged by the World Health Organization (WHO), the bench said, ‘the core issue is the control a woman has or exercises over her own body and reproductive choice. control over reproduction is a basic need and a basic right of all women… Linked as it is to women’s health and social status, it is from the perspective of poor women or women of rural areas that this right can be best understood.”

Honestly, this was a very sound decision by the Bombay High Court. It is high time we recognize the mental trauma a woman goes through when facing domestic violence. And the fact that it can get so severe that she is forced to abort her pregnancy. Domestic violence in any form is harmful and more awareness needs to be created around it.

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