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Delhi High Court Agrees to Hear Plea Seeking to Increase Prescribed Length of Pregnancy

Sahni also pleaded that unmarried women and widows are equally entitled to terminate a pregnancy under the MTP Act

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Delhi High Court. Source- Wikimedia

The Delhi High Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea seeking to increase the prescribed length of a pregnancy from a period of “20 weeks to 24 weeks”.

A division bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi said it will hear the plea on Tuesday. The plea filed by social activist and lawyer Amit Sahni was mentioned before the bench on Monday.

In his plea, Sahni has sought direction to the government to replace or suitably extend the length of pregnancy from “20 weeks” by a further period of four to six weeks by bringing suitable amendments in Section 3(2)(b) of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act.

Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act prohibits abortion of a foetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The petitioner said that Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act is against the right to privacy as it completely prohibits termination of pregnancy in case the fetus is suffering from severe abnormality even after a period of 20 weeks.

“There is substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped,” the plea said.

Where pregnancy is caused by rape or due to failure of a device used by a married woman or by her husband, the MTP Act is totally silent on it, the plea said adding that it makes termination of pregnancy as an offence punishable under Indian Penal Code if the same is not done in accordance with the MTP Act.

Technology, Privacy
A model wears the Owlet Band pregnancy monitor at the Owlet booth at CES International, Jan. 9, 2019, in Las Vegas. The device can track fetal heart rate, kicks and contractions. VOA

The plea said that the fetal abnormalities are detected appropriately between 18 to 20 weeks and the period of one-two weeks is too less for the would-be parents to take the difficult call on whether to keep their baby or to abort it.

“…the lack of legal approval moves abortion to the underground (illegal manner) and they are done in unhygienic conditions by untrained persons, thus putting thousands of women at risk,” read the plea.

It also demanded empowering of women with sexual rights, legal protection against sex crimes and sex choices both in their own interest and for the sake of reducing the fertility rate as a whole.

It said that abortion beyond a period of 20 weeks is permitted only if continuing the pregnancy poses a substantial risk to the woman’s life. But the law does not consider the factum of serious abnormalities suffered by the child in womb and are detected after the 20th week.

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Sahni has cited Supreme Court judgments that a woman’s right to privacy, dignity and bodily integrity should be respected. He also mentioned many European countries including France, UK and Italy and even Nepal which allow abortion after 20 weeks if fetal abnormalities are discovered.

He requested the court to hold that the right to abort the pregnancy is a fundamental right of the woman’s body sovereignty and each woman has the sole right to make a decision about her body in the context of carrying on a pregnancy or to terminate the same, subject to checks as provided under the MTP Act or further checks, which may be provided.

Sahni also pleaded that unmarried women and widows are equally entitled to terminate a pregnancy under the MTP Act. (IANS)

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Most Pregnant Women Depend on Their Mothers For Guidance: Study

The researchers performed in-depth interviews with pregnant women and their mothers while following the pregnant women for nine months

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Pregnant Women
The study also found that Pregnant Women with higher education still found a great value in what their mothers could tell them about how their bodies would be changing and were a valuable source for details related to their familial or genetic inheritance -- information that only their mothers could contribute. Pixabay

Most Pregnant Women still rely on their mothers for emotional support and guidance — many weighing mother’s advice as equal to or even over medical recommendation, a new study suggests.

For the study, published in the journal Reproduction, the research team from University of Cincinnati, investigated the complexities within mother-daughter dynamics during pregnancy in relation to potentially harmful advice from many pregnancy guidebooks, looking specifically at the emotional and health care risks to certain groups.

The researchers performed in-depth interviews with pregnant women and their mothers while following the pregnant women for nine months.

“I found that most pregnancy self-help books, best known for their month-by-month guidance on fetal development and lifestyle coaching, are also empathic about following medical advice exclusively over what they consider the outdated advice of a mother or friend,” said study researcher Danielle Bessett from University of Cincinnati.

“This advice is limited and can result in an increased level of stress and discomfort for some soon-to-be moms,” Bessett added.

While looking at two groups — pregnant women with at least a bachelor’s degree and women with no college or higher education — Bessett found that all pregnant women took steps to have a healthy pregnancy.

But while the researcher identified a pervasive link to a mother’s influence on her daughter’s health and well-being in both groups, it was especially strong for minorities and women with less than a college degree who had little trust in their medical personnel.

Women with higher education engaged with their mothers in ways much more similar to how they are framed in common self-help books.

“Self-help books are giving us a really terrible picture of soon-to-be grandmothers that pregnant women themselves don’t really fully endorse regardless of who they are,” said Bessett.

“I argue that books are strictly endorsing medical guidance exclusively and that’s not the only place where women are getting their information,” Besset added.

 

Pregnant Women
Most Pregnant Women still rely on their mothers for emotional support and guidance — many weighing mother’s advice as equal to or even over medical recommendation, a new study suggests. Pixabay

While highly educated women engaged with their mothers in a more limited way, women with lower education engaged with their mothers more in-depth about everything and ranked their mothers as the most valuable source of information, the study said.

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The study also found that women with higher education still found a great value in what their mothers could tell them about how their bodies would be changing and were a valuable source for details related to their familial or genetic inheritance — information that only their mothers could contribute.

“One of the most distinctive differences between the two groups showed how much more women with higher education valued how scientific information and modern technology could contribute to a healthy pregnancy,” said Bessett. (IANS)