(Appellate Criminal Court of Madras) A prosecution had been brought under section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, it being an offence ‘voluntarily [to] cause a woman with child to miscarry’. The trial judge had held that the defendant, who had only been pregnant for one month, could not be said to have been ‘with child’, for ‘according to the evidence, what came away was only a mass of blood’ and ‘there was nothing which could be called even a rudimentary foetus or child’.
Held: Setting aside the acquittal, and directing a re-trial, the appellate court said: ‘The term miscarriage is not defined in the Penal Code. In its popular sense it is synonymous with abortion, and consists in the expulsion of the embryo or foetus, ie., the immature product of conception. The stage to which pregnancy has advanced and the form which the ovum or embryo may have assumed are immaterial. Section 312 requires proof that the woman is ‘with child,’ but it is enough if the fact of pregnancy and the intentional expulsion of the immature contents of the uterus are established. The words ‘with child’ mean pregnant, and it is not necessary to show that ‘quickening’, ie., perception by the mother of the movements of the foetus has taken place or that the embryo has assumed a foetal form.’
Muttusami Ayyar and Brandt JJ
(1886) ILR 9 Mad 369
England and Wales
Cited – Regina (Smeaton) v Secretary of State for Health and Others Admn 18-Apr-2002
The claimant challenged the Order as regards the prescription of the morning-after pill, asserting that the pill would cause miscarriages, and that therefore the use would be an offence under the 1861 Act.
Held: ‘SPUC’s case is that any . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 04 December 2021; Ref: scu.223713