Delhi HC's Ruling On Widow's Pregnancy Termination Spotlights Agency

The Delhi High Court has granted permission for the medical termination of a 27-week pregnancy for a widow who is grappling with severe mental trauma following the demise of her husband.

Oshi Saxena
New Update

(File Photo)

The Delhi High Court, led by Justice Subramonium Prasad, has granted permission to a widow to terminate her 27-week pregnancy. This decision stems from a careful consideration of the change in circumstances and the severe mental trauma the petitioner is undergoing due to the recent death of her husband.


Justice Subramonium Prasad, after careful consideration of the submissions and a psychiatric evaluation report, acknowledged the altered marital status of the petitioner.

The Court's Considerations

Justice Subramonium Prasad, after a thorough examination of the petitioner's submissions and a psychiatric evaluation report from AIIMS, acknowledged the widow's extreme trauma. The report indicated that she is at risk of losing her mental balance, with potential harm to herself. Justice Prasad emphasized that considering these circumstances, allowing the petitioner to continue with the pregnancy could impair her mental stability, as she is exhibiting suicidal tendencies.

Legal Precedent and Reproductive Choice

Referring to the legal precedent set by the Apex Court in X vs. Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, the High Court highlighted the importance of a woman's prerogative to evaluate her life and make decisions based on changes in marital circumstances. The court emphasized that the right to reproductive choice includes the right not to procreate.

The bench, while permitting the termination, directed AIIMS to conduct the procedure despite the petitioner surpassing the gestation period of 24 weeks. It explicitly stated that this order is specific to the unique facts and circumstances of the present case and should not be treated as a precedent.


Legal Advocacy and Privacy Concerns

The petitioner's counsel, Dr. Amit Mishra, argued that forcing her to continue the pregnancy amounted to an attack on her privacy. He highlighted the apex court's judgment allowing termination even at this stage and stressed that the petitioner's mental status had significantly changed the circumstances.

Psychiatric Evaluation and Medical Board's Findings

The court, having considered a psychiatric evaluation report from AIIMS, noted that the petitioner was suffering from severe depression with suicidal ideation. The Department of Psychiatry at AIIMS recommended admission due to the risk to both the petitioner and the fetus. This decision followed a series of evaluations, considering the widow's mental and physical trauma.

The court reiterated that this decision is unique to the circumstances of the case. It marks a significant step in recognizing a woman's right to make decisions about her reproductive health, especially in challenging situations.

Widows Delhi HC Pregnancy Termination