The Delhi High Court Monday allowed a woman’s plea to terminate her 28-week pregnancy after the AIIMS-constituted medical board said her fetus could be aborted because it suffered from anencephaly, a disorder in which the skull bone is not developed and thus incompatible with life.
Based on the board’s report, the bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh allowed the medical termination of the woman’s pregnancy and disposed of her appeal.
A comprehensive order will soon be released, the court said.
The bench directed the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on January 7 to set up a medical board to examine the woman and report on the feasibility of terminating her pregnancy by January 11.
According to the woman’s plea, “an ultrasonography 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”.
Abortion of a fetus after 20 weeks of gestation is forbidden by the Surgical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971. Therefore, the woman had also questioned the clauses of the law that cap abortions after 20 weeks.
She had claimed that it was perfectly secure for a woman to abort a fetus at any time during her pregnancy with advancements in technology.
She had also contended that determination of foetal 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 foetal 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 violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.” the petition had claimed.