The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday turned down a woman’s petition seeking to terminate her 26-week-old pregnancy as a medical report did not suggest a danger to the woman’s life, News18 reported.
The woman had moved the High Court on January 22 after tests indicated that the foetus had Down Syndrome and abnormalities in heart, abdomen and oesophagus. Doctors she had consulted had also advised termination of pregnancy, PTI quoted her lawyers as saying.
A medical board at the state-run SSKM Hospital in a report to the court said the prognosis of the foetus is likely to be better if it is delivered near term and advised against an abortion, reported The Times of India. The medical board said the child would be “born alive” and would survive with advanced neo-natal care.
The woman challenged the board’s decision saying it had only accounted for the condition of the foetus and not the mother’s physical and mental trauma and financial constraints of raising a child with Down Syndrome and health problems. “A woman’s right to reproductive health is inalienable from her right to life,” the woman’s lawyer told the court.
Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty agreed with the medical board’s report which stated that all the organs of the foetus had developed and that the child was likely to survive after birth. “At this stage, abortion is impossible. If the baby is born with Down Syndrome, it can survive with treatment.”
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act allows women to abort foetuses up to 20-weeks-old. Permission of a high court is required beyond 20 weeks and courts can make exceptions if abnormalities are detected and if there is substantial risk to the mother’s life and health. A pending bill in Parliament proposes to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to extend the legally permissible period to end a pregnancy to 24 weeks.