The Supreme Court today did not allow a woman to abort her 26-week foetus set to be born with ‘down syndrome noting that there is no danger to the life of the mother or the foetus. Down syndrome is a congenital disorder which causes intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities. Law does not allow a woman to abort if her pregnancy crosses 20 weeks.
Termination of pregnancy is allowed in extreme cases if continuation is likely to cause grave injury to the woman’s health and/or increase or induce a risk of abnormalities in the child. A bench of justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao concluded that aborting a 20-plus week foetus can be allowed only in cases where there is a danger to the life of the mother or the foetus. Medical reports said the woman’s child may suffer from physical and mental problems and with low intelligence, but there was no physical risk to the mother in continuing the pregnancy.
The bench’s decision came after the panel of doctors from Mumbai’s KEM Hospital held the baby had chances of survival and, therefore, abortion should not be performed. “It is sad that the child may suffer from physical and mental challenges and it’s unfortunate for the mother but we can’t allow an abortion. We have a a life in our hands and we are also tied down by a law,” the court said. Appearing for Centre, solicitor general Ranjit Kumar informed the bench that it is considering extending medical termination of foetuses of up to 24 weeks.
In February, the top court allowed a 22-year-old woman to terminate her 24-week pregnancy on the ground that it would endanger her life. In January, the apex court allowed a Mumbai-based woman, who was in her 24th week of pregnancy, to terminate her pregnancy under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. The court took into consideration a medical report that suggested the foetus would not be able to survive without the skull.
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