Covid-19 patients are not untouchables: Bombay HC fumes at hospital’s refusal to examine pregnant woman

kanchan.chaudhari@htlive.com

Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients are not untouchables, a Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court (HC) has said while expressing displeasure over a state government-run hospital’s refusal to clinically examine a woman, who had moved court in a bid to get her advanced pregnancy terminated after she was found to have contracted SARS-CoV-2, which causes the viral disease.

“We fail to understand as to how the Covid-19 patient cannot be clinically examined by doctors,” said the two-member division bench, comprising Justices Ravi Deshpande and Pushpa Ganediwala.

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 added.

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The petitioner had moved the HC seeking permission to medically terminate her 23-week pregnancy while contending that the scan report has revealed that the foetus was suffering from several deformities.

She had pleaded before the court that her doctor was of the opinion that there was substantial risk after the delivery, as the newborn could suffer from physical and mental abnormalities.

The bench on October 7 had directed the government medical college authorities to constitute an expert panel 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.

An additional government pleader submitted the report before the bench on Monday (October 12).

However, the judges were annoyed after the government lawyer informed them that the petitioner would have to be clinically examined to ascertain, if she was fit to undergo the termination of her pregnancy.

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

The bench will give its verdict on Thursday on the basis of the panel’s report.

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