NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday permitted a woman, in her 26th week of pregnancy, to abort her foetus, which is suffering from severe cardiac ailments.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and M. Khanwilkar said the procedure of termination of pregnancy should be carried out ”forthwith” at the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata.
The direction came after the bench studied the report of the medical board and the SSKM Hospital, which advised the termination of pregnancy on the grounds that the mother would suffer “severe mental injury” if the pregnancy is continued and the child, if born alive, has to undergo multiple surgeries for severe cardiac ailments.
The woman and her husband had petitioned the apex court for permission to abort the foetus, citing abnormalities that could be even fatal to her.
They have also challenged the constitutional validity of section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act which prohibits abortion of a foetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The apex court had earlier took on record the report of a seven-member medical board set up by the West Bengal government on its direction and asked the woman to examine the report on her health and apprise it of her stand.
The petition has said that the woman had suffered immense mental and physical anguish after coming to know of the abnormalities on the 21st week of her pregnancy.
”This petition challenges the constitutional validity of section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP) restricted to the ceiling of 20 weeks stipulated therein.
”This challenge is to the effect that the 20 week stipulation for a woman to avail of abortion services under section 3(2)(b) 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 even up to the 26th week and thereafter,” it said.
The plea has said the 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 report of serious foetal abnormalities after the 20th week have to suffer excruciating pain and agony because of the deliveries they are forced to go through.
The petition has claimed that during the examination of the foetus on May 25, the abnormalities were detected including, a combination of four impairments in the heart.
”It was during a foetal echocardiography conducted on the petitioner on May 25, that it was first suspected that the foetus suffered from Tetrology of Fallot, a combination of four impairments in the heart. Further, a subsequent foetal echocardiography done on May 30, confirmed the same.