In the second such case this year, a Navi Mumbai resident has petitioned the Supreme Court to allow her to abort an abnormal foetus after the legal deadline of 20 weeks.
The 22-year-old housewife from Vashi has told the court that the foetus has an abnormality that gives it little or no chance to survive after birth.
The petitioner’s counsel Sneha Mukherjee mentioned the case on Thursday before a bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar and pressed for an early hearing. The case will come up on Friday. The petitioner has taken legal recourse because the law does not allow termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks.
However, in this case, the 23-week-old foetus does not have kidneys.
Dr Nikhil Datar, the petitioner’s doctor, said the foetus was diagnosed with a condition known as bilateral renal agenesis (absence of both kidneys) in the 21st week of pregnancy. “She was following up regularly, but missed one specific ultrasound scan. The condition was diagnosed after 20 weeks and the parents wanted to terminate the pregnancy. Hence I advised the legal recourse,” said Datar, who has been assisting parents with technical and medical guidance for termination of pregnancy after the 20-week cut off period.
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.
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.