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In a landmark order, the Supreme Court today allowed an alleged rape survivor to terminate her 24-week pregnancy due to an abnormal foetus.
Citing the report submitted by a Mumbai-based hospital’s medical board, the apex court said the continuance of pregnancy would gravely endanger the life of the mother.
The panel said the foetus is suffering with grave medical abnormalities with no skull, and the liver and intestines growing outside the body. It was further observed by the panel that the foetus won’t survive upon birth.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the Centre clarified to the apex court that the current ceiling of 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 does not apply if there is a danger to the life of the mother. Rohatgi further argued that the ceiling has been put to avoid the misuse of foeticide.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court directs the AIIMS to constitute medical board to look into the in case.
PLEA CHALLENGED ABORTION LAWS
The petition filed in the matter has also challenged the constitutional validity of abortion laws in India. The petition argued by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves says that the current laws deny women’s rights to abort in cases of extraordinary medical complications.
The alleged rape survivor had challenged the constitutional validity of the provisions of the abortion law which prohibits termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks even if there is a fatal risk to the mother and the foetus.
In her petition, the woman had alleged that she was raped by her former fiance on the false promise of marriage and became pregnant and sought a direction to quash the section of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 to the extent that it puts a ceiling of 20 weeks for an abortion.
The woman’s plea contended that the ceiling is unreasonable, arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violative of the right to life and equality.
Entering her plea, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice JS Khehar asked the medical board to examine the woman at King Edward Memorial College and Hospital at Mumbai and submit its report by Monday.