Human Rights Law Network


PILs & Cases

High Court of Chhattisgarh will frame MLC guidelines

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In a petition filed by a survivor of rape and trafficking in the high court of Chhattisgarh, the petitioner pleaded for termination of her pregnancy resulting from rape. Before knocking the doors of the court, she had to go pillar to post for obtaining a medical termination of pregnancy (abortion, MTP). The referral procedure took a lot of her time leading to the maturity of pregnancy. On approaching the court she was allowed an abortion subsequently. The judge was aghast at the procedure of referrals the girls had to go through to ask for an abortion. Noting this he would now take a landmark step of issuing guidelines regarding the Medico Legal Case examination of a rape survivor, to ensure that the MTP process is facilitated in case the victim has conceived as a result of rape and she wishes to get a MTP done. The court has asked the lawyers from the Chhattisgarh Unit of HRLN to make submission for the guideline. 

It is significant to note that the MTP Act, 1971 does not allow an abortion post 20-week period except in certain conditions. In the present case the court allowed the MTP post the 20 week period, as it was unwanted by the woman, after a panel of doctors examined the feasibility of the termination of pregnancy. He also made an important remark: “The Court's decision should be guided by the interests of the victim alone and not those of stakeholders such as guardians or society in general.”

 

For more details, Contact Ragini Pant; ragini@hrln.org

 

 

Petition to SC challenges 'Criminalisation of Abortions' after 20th week of pregnancy

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Mrs X and Mrs Y vs Union of India & Ors,challenges the Constitutional validity of section 3 (2) (b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 (MTP Act). The MTP Act bans the medical termination of a pregnancy post 20 weeks, and therefore does not adequately take into account individual circumstances that may warrant termination post 20 weeks, including where there are severe foetal abnormalities.

The criminalisation of abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy violates a woman’s Fundamental Rights to life, liberty, health, choice and to be free from discrimination and inhuman and degrading treatment. Women who only discover they are carrying a foetus with severe abnormalities after the 20th week are unable to obtain an abortion. This forces many to seek often dangerous, illegal abortions from untrained providers in desperation. In some cases, testing to determine the existence of abnormalities can extend beyond the 20th week, forcing the pregnant woman to make a difficult decision on whether to abort the pregnancy without sufficient information.

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The insensitive practice of Sterilisation 'Drives': A case from Bihar

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The irresponsible and target driven practice of ‘sterilization camps’ in India have resulted into an incident which completely violated the women’s right to life as we witness in the case, Devika Biswas v. Union of India & Ors. In January, 2012, a sterilization camp was conducted in the Arharia district of Bihar sterilising 53 women within 2 hours in unhygienic and cruel conditions. This camp was organized in a government school by Jai Ambe Welfare Society and authorised by Bihar state.

The petition highlights the wrong practices employed by the state to achieve sterilization targets, which is discouraged by the SC and the National Population Policy 2000. It also brings about how sterilisation is viewed as a ‘population control and stabilisation measure’ by the healthcare personnel rather a way of safeguarding a woman’s reproductive rights. The petition sought monetary compensation, directions for safety of patients, guidelines for terms of operations etc. 

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Discontented HC asks govt to compensate Thane woman for poor healthcare services

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A visibly dissatisfied bench of the Bombay High Court Wednesday asked the government if it is willing to monetarily compensate a Thane woman who had given birth to a stillborn due to medical negligence.

“Somebody has to go to jail. Tell us who it should be?” With these words that resonated in the courtroom of Justices A S Oka and Revati Mohite Dere, a visibly dissatisfied bench of the Bombay High Court Wednesday asked the government if it is willing to monetarily compensate a Thane woman who had given birth to a stillborn due to medical negligence and abysmal condition of government healthcare facilities.

On February 23, The Indian Express had met 21-year-old Tulsa Wagh from Maroshi village in Murbad Taluka, Thane, who had narrated her plight owing to the dismal healthcare infrastructure. Two weeks before the meeting, the pregnant woman in labour was taken to the rural hospital in Tokawade village, 14 km away from her house. She had to travel the whole rickety way in a private vehicle as repeated attempts to call to the 108 emergency ambulance services went in vain. But that was not the end of her ordeal.

Though two doctors examined her there, owing to poor infrastructure, she was referred to Ulhasnagar Central Hospital, almost 60 km away. After a back-breaking ride amid which her water broke, Tulsa reached Ulhasnagar Central Hospital, where she gave birth to a stillborn after a caesarian surgery.

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In Murbad, a delivery is always ‘complicated’ as Govt affidavit in HC claims Tokewadi Rural Hospital ‘functional’, while PHC board has been replaced.

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Tulsa Wagh seldom talks nowadays. Two weeks ago, she was in labour when her family from Moroshi village in Murbad taluka of Thane district took her to the rural hospital in Tokewadi village, 60 km away. They went in a private vehicle; calls to the 108 emergency ambulance service were futile. Six hours later, Tulsa was referred to the nearest bigger facility — Ulhasnagar Central Hospital, 60 km away. The Tokewadi rural Hospital could not handle her case. After her water broke at Tokewadi hospital and the foetus’s heart-rate dipping, Tulsa managed a back-breaking ride in a hospital ambulance to Ulhasnagar. There, she delivered a stillborn the moment she lay on the hospital bed.

Tulsa’s is just another tragedy among many in Moroshi. In an affidavit filed by the Director of Health Services in the Bombay High Court last month, the government claimed that the Tokewadi centre is a ‘functional’ rural hospital with 15 sanctioned posts. But the reality is starkly different.

The doctor who handled Tulsa’s case points to lack of infrastructure. “We cannot do a Cesarean delivery,” says Dr Kishore Jadhav.

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HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.