On Monday, the Delhi High Court allowed a woman’s plea to terminate her 28-week pregnancy after a medical board constituted by AIIMS said her fetus can be aborted as it suffered from anencephaly, a condition where the skull bone is not formed, and was therefore, incompatible with life.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh permitted the medical termination of the woman’s pregnancy based on the board”s report and disposed of her plea.
The court said a detailed order would be issued soon.
The bench on January 7 had asked the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to constitute a medical board to examine the woman and give a report by January 11 on the feasibility of terminating her pregnancy.
According to the woman’s plea, “an ultra-sonography at the gestational age of 27 weeks 5 days found that the fetus suffered from anencephaly (skull bone not formed) thereby making it incompatible with life”.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 prohibits abortion of a fetus after 20 weeks of gestation. The woman had, therefore, also challenged the provisions of the statute which restrict abortions after 20 weeks.
She had contended that with advances in technology it was perfectly safe for a woman to abort a fetus at any point during her pregnancy.
She had also contended that determination of fetal abnormality in many cases can only be done after the 20th week and “by keeping the ceiling artificially low, women who obtain reports of serious fetal abnormality after the 20th week have to suffer excruciating pain and agony because of the deliveries that they are forced to go through”.
“The ceiling of 20 weeks is therefore arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India,” the petition had claimed.”