Mumbai – 23-week pregnant woman moves SC to abort malformed foetus

Representative image.Representative image.

MUMBAI: In the second case this year, a pregnant woman with a malformed foetusmoved the Supreme Court on Thursday to seek permission to undergo an abortion beyond the 20-week limit. She is in her 23rd week of pregnancy.

In January, a Dombivli woman had won SC’s nod to medically terminate her foetus that had severe brain anomaly.

Indian laws allow abortion till 20 weeks of pregnancy, but around a dozen cases have, in the recent past, moved the SC seeking permission to abort beyond this deadline. The Centre had prepared a draft bill allowing abortion up to 24 weeks, but there has been not development thereafter.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, allows abortion only up to 20 weeks of gestation. Women who want to abort the foetus after this deadline get permission only if ‘the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury physical or mental health.’ The new MTP amendment draft bill 2014, which is yet to be passed, plans to extend the abortion cut-off to 24 weeks.



In the latest case, the 21-year-old woman, identified as Mrs X in the writ petition filed on Thursday, and her gynaceologist, Dr Nikhil Datar from Goregaon pleaded for the right to terminate beyond the deadline as the foetus doesn’t have kidneys and would be unviable with life.
The matter is likely to be taken up for hearing on Friday.
Her lawyer Sneha Mukherji from the Human Rights Law Network told TOI, “The petitioner found out in the 21st week of her pregnancy that the foetus doesn’t have kidneys. She had to undergo two scans before this could established.” Mukherji said the foetus has multiple anamolies, with the main one being the absence of kidneys. Dr Datar said that absence of kidneys is usually picked up around the 17th week of pregnancy. “But the woman’s ultrasound scan got delayed. The couple also needs time to think it through before moving the SC seeking permission to medically terminate the foetus,” he added.
In the second week of January, a Dombivli woman, who was 23 weeks into her pregnancy, moved SC as she wanted to abort her foetus which had anencephaly, a serious defect in which parts of the brain or skull are not adequately development. The court had asked a medical board from KEM Hospital to give an opinion. The woman underwent abortion at the same hospital a week later on SC directions. Experts had then asked SC to draw up guidelines for women in similar condition so that they can get help at local level, instead of having to move court every time.


Dr Sangeeta Pikale, a radiologist from Mumbai, said the child has little or no chance to survive because of the condition and childbirth may cause mental and physical strain to the mother. “The condition is a result of medical complications during the organ genesis process, during which the foetus’ organs are formed. Options like a kidney transplant or stem cell therapy can’t be considered and the foetus is not salvageable,” said Pikale. Mukherjee told HT if the woman give birth, the baby will not be able to produce urine and it would need dialysis, which a newborn cannot undergo.

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