SC gives woman seeking abortion 24 hours to reconsider her decision | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC gives woman seeking abortion 24 hours to reconsider her decision

ByAbraham Thomas
Oct 12, 2023 04:23 PM IST

The woman told the court that her mother-in-law was looking after her children aged four and one due to her depression and that she will be unable to take care of a third child

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave 24 hours to the woman seeking an abortion of her 26-week foetus to reconsider her decision while underlining it was not in favour of terminating the pregnancy and that the rights of an unborn child must be balanced with a woman’s reproductive right.

The court said it was not in favour of terminating the pregnancy. (HT PHOTO)
The court said it was not in favour of terminating the pregnancy. (HT PHOTO)

A Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud-led bench said, “Today AIIMS [All India Institute of Medical Sciences] is asking us that Mr. Supreme Court, you are asking us to carry out foeticide...We cannot kill the child.”

On Wednesday, another two-judge bench gave a split verdict on whether to go ahead with the abortion.The CJI-led bench, which also comprises justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said undoubtedly a woman’s reproductive right must trump under Constitution’s Article 21. “But equally whatever we do has to balance the rights of an unborn child as nobody is appearing for the child.” It added the option of terminating a foetus may be exercised in case of forced pregnancy or a minor who does not realise the consequences of giving birth.

The court was considering the Union government’s application against an order of a bench of justices Hima Kohli and BV Nagarathna on Monday directing abortion after considering an AIIMS’s medical board report dated October 6. It passed the order on Monday respecting the woman’s decisional autonomy.

The woman told the court that due to her depression, her mother-in-law was looking after her children aged four and one. She added she will not be able to take care of a third child.

The application cited a fresh opinion of one of the doctors pointing out that terminating pregnancy will require doctors to stop the foetal heart. The government obtained an order from the CJI-led bench on Tuesday to defer the abortion. The matter was placed before the same bench that passed the order to terminate pregnancy. The CJI-led bench found the only change was the inclusion of the word “foeticide” in the board’s opinion.

Additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati, who appeared for the court, told the court the recall application was filed as its order went against the law and the opinion of the board. “To go against the law and medical opinion will be difficult and chaotic for the country.” Bhati said that the 27-year-old petitioner has been vacillating.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Rahul Sharma, replied in the negative when the court asked if he wanted it to put the child to death. The bench asked the petitioner: “Do you wait for 26 weeks to realise that you want to end pregnancy.” Sharma said the question of the viability of foetus was being put to his client only because she is married. He added that had it been a minor or unmarried woman, this would not be an issue.

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