The Calcutta High Court on Monday permitted a 42-year-old woman to terminate her 29-week pregnancy because her foetus was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, PTI reported. Acting Chief Justice B Somadder said the West Bengal government had not offered any measures to provide the mother with financial and medical assistance to relieve her of her stress.
Indian law allows abortion of foetuses up to 20 weeks old, but courts can make exceptions in case abnormalities are detected and if there is substantial risk to the mother’s life and health.
Somadder said the mother also had a right to life with dignity. A report submitted by the medical board set up by the state government had said the foetus is likely to be affected by deformities in the oesophagus, heart and abdomen. Down Syndrome causes birth defects, intellectual disabilities and characteristic facial features.
The woman’s lawyers told the court that the report had claimed that the child, if born, would require long-term treatment and specialised case. Her lawyers moved the court’s division bench after a single bench denied her petition.
The division bench ruled that the birth of the child would negatively impact the mother’s mental and physical health.