Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

India: High Court Denial of Abortion Petition Prompts Review of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act

(Sept. 17, 2008) Upon being advised by their physicians that the baby to be born to them would have a congenitally defective heart, an Indian couple, Haresh Mehta and his wife, Niketa, applied for permission to abort the 24-week-old fetus. The Bombay High Court denied permission. India's Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971(MTPA) allows physicians to abort a fetus if the continuance of the pregnancy endangers a mother's physical or mental health or if there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped, provided that the fetus is not more than 20 weeks old.

The couple's dilemma and their failed plea before the Bombay High Court has prompted the Government of India to quickly create a high-level committee, consisting of the Health Secretary of the Government of India and a biotechnology fellow in the Department of Science and Technology, to review the MTPA and make recommendations on its amendment in order to address the couple's predicament and avoid such situations in the future. (Niketa Effect: Govt to Review Abortion Laws, THE HINDUSTAN TIMES, Sept. 5, 2008, available at