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Supreme Court wants to stretch law on abortion

The Supreme Court of India wants to “stretch ” the law on abortion that will allow termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks if the foetus is suffering from severe abnormalities.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2017 00:07 IST
Ashok Bagriya
The SC bench of justices YV Chandrachud and SK Kaul said, “we need to stretch the law a little bit” while considering a petition by a pregnant woman wanting to abort her 25 week foetus.
The SC bench of justices YV Chandrachud and SK Kaul said, “we need to stretch the law a little bit” while considering a petition by a pregnant woman wanting to abort her 25 week foetus.(REUTERS File Photo)

The Supreme Court of India wants to “stretch ” the law on abortion that will allow termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks if the foetus is suffering from severe abnormalities.

The SC bench of justices YV Chandrachud and SK Kaul said, “we need to stretch the law a little bit” while considering a petition by a pregnant woman wanting to abort her 25 week foetus.

33-year-old Sharmishta Chakraborty from Kolkata recently approached the SC asking permission to abort her foetus after she discovered that her child she carried suffered from severe cardiac problem.

Chakraborty presented to the court a report by Dr Devi Shetty, pediatric pulmonologist, which said the foetus was suffering from a severe form of cardiac impairment called pulmonary atresia and has a high possibility of permanent brain damage.

After going through the report, justice Chandrachud said, “In situations like these, you have to look at the quality of life for the mother too. Look at the plight of the mother who lives in a constant fear that her child will be brain dead even after a corrective surgery.”

To help make up its mind on whether to allow termination of the pregnancy, the court directed setting up of a sevenmember medical board and asked it to examine the physical and mental health of the pregnant woman in the next four days.

The board will be filing its report in SC by June 29, the next date of hearing in the case.

Besides the immediate relief for permission to abort, Chakraborty also challenged the 20-week ceiling on abortion in India.

Under laws here, medical termination of pregnancy is not permitted beyond 20 weeks. But recently courts have taken a liberal view on the matter and have in special circumstances, where continued pregnancy causes danger to life of the mother and foetus — allowed termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks.

In her petition, Chakraborty asserts “26 million births that occur in India every year, approximately 2%-3% of the foetuses have a severe congenital or chromosomal abnormality. Many suffer Intrauterine Fetal Death (IUFD) or are stillborn. It is possible to detect certain abnormalities before 20 weeks while other abnormalities can be detected only after 20 weeks.