Court allows termination of 24-week pregnancy due to foetal abnormality

Plea had challenged certain provisions of abortion law

Published - April 07, 2021 12:12 am IST - New Delhi

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday allowed a woman to abort her more than 24 weeks pregnancy after taking note of a medical board’s report that the foetus suffers from substantial abnormalities.

Medical report

The High Court said the medical report indicated there was also a risk to the woman during the pregnancy termination procedure as she was a cardiac patient and was being administered blood thinners.

Before granting the permission, the High Court also spoke to the woman’s husband to find out whether he understood the risks associated with the procedure.

In India, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act stipulates a ceiling of 20 weeks, for termination of pregnancy, beyond which abortion of a foetus is statutorily impermissible.

The woman, in her plea moved last week, stated that she is in the 24th week of her pregnancy and on carrying out medical examinations, it has been reported that the foetus is suffering from facial haemorrhage and hydrocephalus. The plea had challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act which restrict medical termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks.

The plea argued that the provision providing for the 20-week ceiling may have been reasonable when the section was enacted in 1971 but has ceased to be reasonable today where technology has advanced and it is perfectly safe for a woman to abort at any point during the entire period of pregnancy.

It also contended that determination of foetal abnormality in many cases can only be done after the 20th week and by keeping the ceiling artificially low, women who obtain reports of serious foetal abnormality after the 20th week have to suffer excruciating pain and agony because of the deliveries that they are forced to go through.

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