In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court on Monday permitted a woman to carry out an abortion in her 26th week of pregnancy. The decision was made on the grounds that the foetus was suffering from severe cardiac ailments, Press Trust of India reported. “Keeping in view the report of the medical board, we are inclined to allow the prayer and direct medical termination of pregnancy of petitioner no. 1 (woman),” the Supreme Court bench said. The decision came after the woman and her husband appealed the apex court to allow abortion on grounds of abnormalities which could be even fatal to her. The couple also challenged in its plea 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 couple attached a report suggesting that the foetus suffered from serious abnormalities, including cardiac issues. The report further said that if the birth was allowed, the baby may not survive even the first surgery and, moreover, the foetus could prove fatal to the mother’s health as well, PTI reported.
The court had earlier asked responses from state government over the issue. “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,” the plea said. “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,” the plea from the couple had said, PTI reported.
Couple’s plea further pointed out that determination of foetal abnormality in many cases can only be done after the 20th week and women thereafter have to suffer excruciating pain and agony because of the deliveries they are forced to go through. “The ceiling of 20 weeks is therefore arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India,” it has said.