Karan Tripathi | Live Law | 22 April 2020
A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court seeking the enforcement of the right to life of pregnant women who are facing barriers in accessing safe medical services for pregnancy and childbirth due to COVID-19 and the lockdown.
Filed by Sama Resource Group For Women and Health, the petition seeks access to timely, proper and affordable reproductive and neonatal healthcare services for all women and their newborn children.
It is argued by the Petitioner that despite the Central Government including ‘Services related to reproductive health, including care during pregnancy and childbirth’ as an essential service in the April 15 notification, the same is not being implemented on ground.
It is submitted that despite the April 15 notification, pregnant women are experiencing substantial difficulties in accessing reproductive health services.
Petitioner further contends that the right to reproductive health is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. Moreover, the Indian government is obligated to protect this right as it’s also recognised under International Treaties such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Convention For Elimination of All Forms Violence Against Women (CESAW). and Child Rights Convention (CRC).
The plea goes on to highlight the plight of a pregnant woman who was denied medical services for being a non-COVID patient, or faced exorbitant costs at private hospitals. In addition to this, her difficulty was aggravated by the restricted transportation services as she lives in a ‘red zone’ designated area.
‘The health and life of pregnant women and their soon to be born child is placed at grave risk by the denial of access to proper and timely medical care and attention, putting their rights under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution under jeopardy: the petition states.
In light of this, the Petitioner has highlighted that such instances are occurring due to the absence of clear, localized and specific directions and allocation of responsibilities to operationalize such orders.
The present petition has been moved through Advocates Vrinda Grover, Ratna Appender and Soutik Banerjee.
Therefore, the Petitioner has asked for immediate issuance of additional guidelines from the Central Government and the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure access to medical services to pregnant women.