Indian court recognises fetus humanity in "landmark" ruling

In a ruling described by a Mumbai archdiocese representative as a "landmark", the Indian Maharashtra State Commission has recognised an unborn child as a consumer and therefore entitled to insurance coverage.

AsiaNews reports that the Commission which functions as a consumer court in the western Indian state decided in favour of a woman claiming compensation from her husband's insurance company for her unborn grandchild, a car accident victim.

The judges made the decision in favour of the plaintiff in the case of Kanta Mohanlal Kotecha v Branch Manager, United India Insurance. The former is widow of Mohanlal, who had taken a comprehensive insurance policy with the multinational before his death.

Kanta, the policy beneficiary, brought the case against the insurance company, who had agreed to pay the stipulated sum for the death of her husband, her son and his wife - who was seven months pregnant at the time - but not that of the unborn child.

At an earlier hearing, Yavatmal district judges, had found in favour of the insurance company.

Once called into consider her appeal, the Maharashtra State Commission declared its intention to consider US law under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act 2004 whereby personhood was granted to a human fetus. The law "is not static but an instrument of socio-economic change", the court observed.

In its decision, the commission held that the unborn child in the womb was living and therefore is considered a victim and the family entitled to compensation.

Commenting on the ruling, Dr Pascoal, from the Mumbai Diocesan Human Life Committee said that the "landmark ruling is to be hailed as a defence of life.

He says the decision which recognises the value of unborn human life "is a great victory for life".

Mumbai judges: the foetus is a human being (AsiaNews, 7/3/07)

Vic law change may make death of foetus culpable offence (CathNews, 19/1/04)

8 Mar 2007