The Delhi High Court on Tuesday held that the choice of a mother is ultimate in pregnancy cases involving fetal abnormalities, Live Law reported.
Justice Prathibha M Singh made the observation while allowing a 26-year-old married woman to terminate her pregnancy of 33 weeks.
The woman had approached the court after she found out that the fetus was suffering from certain cerebral abnormalities and her request for an abortion was declined by Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan citing the advanced stage of pregnancy, reported Bar and Bench.
Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, abortion is permitted till 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, in September, a Supreme Court ruling expanded it to 24 weeks.
On Tuesday, Justice Singh, in her ruling, said that abortion rights have been a subject of debate across the world, reported PTI.
“India is amongst the countries that recognize the choice of a woman in its law and have even expanded this right in recent times with amendments permitting the termination at an advanced stage under various circumstances,” the judge said.
She also added that with the emergence of modern technology to detect abnormalities in an unborn child, the issues surrounding abortion are bound to become complex.
“Such technology coupled with the unpredictability of degree of an abnormality, even by medical practitioners, throw challenges to the manner in which a society may grow in the future,” Justice Singh said.
The court also acknowledged that women undergo a “severe dilemma” while taking a decision to terminate pregnancy in such cases, according to Live Law.
“Courts are no exception,” Justice Singh added. “Judges have to grapple with issues that are not merely factual and legal, but also involve ethical and moral factors.”
She also stressed on the importance of the report of the medical board constituted in such cases.
“Such opinions [by medical boards] cannot be sketchy and fragmented. They ought to be comprehensive in nature,” the judge said, according to Bar and Bench.
The court had previously expressed displeasure over the medical report submitted by the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan in the case, noting that it was incomplete.