January 17th, 2017
The Supreme Court has permitted a 22-year-old girl from Mumbai to terminate her 24-week pregnancy. This is beyond the 20 weeks limit as prescribed under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The grounds for this decision was that the foetus of the woman was diagnosed with anencephaly. Anencephaly is a congenital defect in which a major portion of skull, brain and scalp do not develop normal.
The apex court ordered King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, Mumbai to examine the woman after a petition was made by her advocate requesting the court to allow abortion. The Supreme Court said that the woman has the right to preserve her life.
A seven-member expert panel examined and found that the foetus was ‘unviable.’
“The panel conducted a clinical examination, and also interviewed the woman and her husband and found out that the foetus had anencephaly,” says Dr Avinash Supe, The Dean of KEM hospital.
The lady learned about the condition of her foetus in December last year and made a request for an abortion on December 20. The doctors had denied her application in Mumbai because her pregnancy had crossed the limit of 20 weeks.
The lady issued a petition in Supreme Court calling the ceiling of 20 weeks unreasonable as the determination of foetal abnormality can only be done after 20 weeks
As per The Hindustan Times, The petitioner said, “The ceiling of 20 weeks is arbitrary, harsh and discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 (Right to Equality) and 21 ( Right to Life) of the Constitution”.
Other recent cases
A rape victim carrying a foetus with anencephaly requested the apex court to allow abortion. The Expert Panel at the King Edward Memorial conduct an examination, and the Supreme Court allowed Medical Termination of Pregnancy.
A lady had a foetus with brain deformity and she consulted her doctor in the 26th week. She couldn’t go for abortion and gave birth to the child who died within minutes, as reported by The Daily News and Analysis.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, was enacted in 1971 by Indian Parliament with an intent to reduce the cases of illegal abortions and maternal mortality and morbidity. It is legal only up to twenty weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations.