The Supreme Court will hear on Thursday the plea of a rape survivor for legally terminating her 24-week pregnancy because the law does not allow her to do so.
The 26-year-old has challenged the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP) that puts a ceiling on abortion, even if there is a fatal risk to the mother and foetus.
The court on Wednesday accepted the matter for urgent hearing after senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said that in the present case, the life of the woman is in grave danger.
The petitioner said the ceiling on abortion was unconstitutional and violated a woman’s right to live. She called it unreasonable, arbitrary, harsh and discriminatory.
The petitioner, who belongs to a poor background, has alleged that her ex-fiancé raped her on the false promise of marriage and her physical and mental health has been put to risk due to the 20-week limit.
Her foetus suffers from anencephaly (a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull) but the doctors have refused to abort it since it will be illegal.
The petition also sought an order for the Centre to provide necessary directions to hospitals for setting up an expert panel of doctors to assess the pregnancy and offer medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) at least to those women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence and have passed the period of 20 weeks.
A similar case was reported eight years ago from Mumbai in which the Bombay high court had refused permission to abort a 26-week foetus with a serious heart defect.
Rejecting Nikita Mehta’s plea, the court observed that medical experts did not express any “categorical opinion that if the child is born, it would suffer from serious handicaps”.
Days later Mehta suffered a miscarriage.