'COVID-19 patients are not untouchables': Bombay HC slams hospital for refusing to examine pregnant woman

Updated: 15 October, 2020 12:17 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

The pregnant woman pleaded before the court that her doctor was of the opinion that there was a substantial risk after the delivery, as the newborn could suffer from physical and mental abnormalities

Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

A Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court slammed state government-run hospitals for refusing to examine a pregnant woman, who tested positive for COVID-19. Recently, a woman had moved the court in a bid to get her advanced pregnancy terminated after she was found to have contracted the SARS-CoV-2, which causes the viral disease.

While expressing displeasure over the hospital's decision to examine the woman, the bench of the Bombay HC said that COVID-19 patients are not untouchables, reports Hindustan Times. "We fail to understand as to how the COVID-19 patient cannot be clinically examined by doctors," the two-member division bench, comprising of Justices Ravi Deshpande and Pushpa Ganediwala, said.

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Interestingly, the court made the observation while noticing that the Chandrapur-based government medical college had not clinically examined the pregnant woman after she had tested COVID-19 positive. "As we understand, day in and day out Covid-19 patients are being treated in hospitals. There is no question of them being untouchables," the bench said.

The woman petitioner had moved the HC seeking permission to medically terminate her 23-week pregnancy. In her petition, the woman contended that the scan report revealed that the foetus was suffering from several deformities. The pregnant woman pleaded before the court that her doctor was of the opinion that there was a substantial risk after the delivery, as the newborn could suffer from physical and mental abnormalities.

On October 7, the HC bench had directed the government medical college authorities to constitute an expert panel in order to examine the petitioner and submit a report in a bid to determine whether her plea for medical termination of her 23-week pregnancy could be upheld. Five days later, an additional government pleader submitted the report before the bench on Monday (October 12).

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The judges of the bench were annoyed when the government lawyer informed them that the petitioner would have to be clinically examined in order to ascertain if she was fit to undergo the termination of her pregnancy. This is when the bench directed the expert panel to clinically examine the petitioner and to take a decision on the mode and manner in which the termination of the pregnancy could take place.

The HC bench also ordered the panel to decide whether the termination of pregnancy could be done when the patient was yet to recover from the infection and submit a report on the same before the court.

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First Published: 15 October, 2020 12:03 IST

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