The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a Kolkata-based woman to abort her 26-week-old foetus that has a congenital defect, ANI reported. The bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice M Khanwilkar pronounced the ruling, observing that a woman has a “sacrosanct right to her bodily integrity”.

In June, Sarmishtha Chakraborty and her husband had filed a petition in the Supreme Court when they discovered the abnormalities in the foetus after the stipulated 20-week mark for abortion had passed. The bench had then asked a medical board to be set up to look into the case and prepare a report by June 29.

The report presented by Kolkata’s SSKM Hospital along with the medical board advised an abortion, concluding that the mother would suffer a “severe mental injury” if she continued with the pregnancy. The report further said that the child would have to undergo surgeries for severe cardiac ailments if born with the abnormalities, PTI reported.

“Keeping in view the report of the medical board, we are inclined to allow the prayer and direct medical termination of pregnancy of petitioner no. 1,” the bench ruled.

MTP Act amendment

Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, currently states that a pregnancy cannot be ended after 20 weeks. Many women have been forced to move the Supreme Court for permission to end their pregnancies that are beyond the legal limit of 20 weeks, after the delay in the MTP Act amendment.

A 2014 draft amendment to the MTP law, which proposes extending the legally permissible period to terminate a pregnancy to 24 weeks, is still pending. The amendment will provide women a wider window to abort terminally ill foetuses or if there is a risk to the mental or physical health of the pregnant woman.