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Age Restrictions in PCPNDT Act Challenged by Woman Using Abortion Rights Judgment; SC Issues Notice

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Supreme Court Law Insider

Bhuvana Marni

Published on: October 26, 2022 at 22:13 IST

The Supreme Court is going to examine, whether conducting pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic tests at the age of 35 years is valid or not.

The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994’s age restriction of 35 years, according to a petition filed in 2019 by an attorney named Meera Kaura Patel, was seen by the court as restricting the reproductive rights of women.

Prenatal Sex Selection is prohibited under the PCPNDT Act. To curb the evil of female foeticide, laws were enacted.

The petitioner contended that the rule would not withstand legal scrutiny by citing the Supreme Court’s recent judgment in X vs. Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, which upheld women’s rights to make reproductive choices.

The notice was limited to the abovementioned aspect and was issued by the bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka.

Any test or analysis of amniotic fluid, chorionic villi, blood, tissue or fluid from a pregnant woman or conceptus is referred to as a “pre-natal diagnostic test,” as ultrasound.

Prenatal diagnostic methods are governed by Section 4 of the PCPNDT Act.

Only the following abnormalities or diseases may be detected using prenatal diagnostic techniques:

(i) chromosomal abnormalities;

(ii) genetic metabolic diseases;

(iii) hemoglobinopathies;

(iv) sex-linked genetic diseases;

(v) congenital anomalies; and

(vi) any other abnormalities or diseases as may be specified by the Central Supervisory Board.

Furthermore, it states that no prenatal diagnostic procedures must be used or performed unless the person qualified to do so is satisfied for reasons to be recorded in writing that one or more of the following requirements are met:

(i) the pregnant mother is older than 35 years old;

(ii) At least two undergone abortions or foetal losses have occurred while the lady was pregnant;

(iii) the mother-to-be had been exposed to substances that might cause birth defects, such as medications, radiation, infections, or chemicals;

(iv) either the pregnant woman or her partner has a history of mental retardation, physical deformities like spasticity, or any other genetic condition.

(v) Any further requirements that the Central Supervisory Board may impose.

SC’s Abortion Judgment:

The Supreme Court ruled in the case of X vs. Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Govt. of NCT of Delhi that all women have the right to safe and legal abortions and that it is unreasonable to explicitly exclude single women from the provisions of Rule 3B of the MTP Rules, which mentions the categories of women who can seek abortion of pregnancy between 20 and 24 weeks.

However, the Court made it clear that nothing in this decision could be read to weaken the PCPNDT Act’s requirements.

Case Title: Meera Kaura Patel vs. Union of India | WP(C) 1327/2019