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Punjab and Haryana HC allows Ropar woman to terminate 24-week-old foetus

During a routine maternity check-up at PGIMER, Chandigarh, the couple was told the foetus was suffering from Global Developmental Delay (GDD), the same neurological disorder that their three-year-old son had.

punjab Updated: Feb 18, 2018 12:54 IST
Surender Sharma
Surender Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
foetus,Punjab and haryana high court,pregnancy
Representative Image

The Punjab and Haryana high court has allowed a Ropar woman to terminate her pregnancy, relying on a PGIMER report stating that the 24-week-old foetus had a high chance of being born with the same neurological disorder that her three-year-old son was suffering from.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, allows abortion only up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. A parliamentary panel had recently recommended permitting abortions until 24 weeks of pregnancy.

During a routine maternity check-up at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, the couple was told the foetus was suffering from Global Developmental Delay (GDD), the same neurological disorder that their three-year-old son had.

GDD is a condition that occurs during the developmental period of a child between birth and 18 years. The child suffering with GDD may have lower intellectual functioning than what is perceived “normal”.

Since the pregnancy had crossed 20 weeks, the couple had approached the high court, seeking permission to terminate it. Upon petition, the court directed the PGIMER to constitute a board of experts and opine whether termination of the pregnancy was possible and necessary.

The 10-member board of PGIMER doctors examined the patient and opined that the possibility of abnormality in the foetus could be higher because the first child also suffering from GDD. It had concluded that carrying out abortion was possible, but with the usual risks of bleeding, uterine rupture and need for surgical removal of uterus. The panel had also stated that there was a possibility of the foetus being born alive and surviving.

Taking the doctors’ opinion into account, the high court gave permission for abortion. However, it directed that since there was an element of risk involved, the PGIMER director should get the pregnancy terminated under the supervision of the head of department of obstetrics and gynaecology, and constitute a team of experienced doctors.

First Published: Feb 18, 2018 12:51 IST