“A woman has a sacrosanct right to her bodily integrity and its her choice”, the Supreme Court today observed allowing a Kolkata-based woman to abort her 26-week-old fetus with grave abnormalities. She had approached the Court when her fetus was 23 weeks old.
The bench of Justice Dipak Misra and M Khanwilkar ruled in favour of the woman and said that the abortion should be carried out 'forthwith'. The law does not permit abortion if the fetus is over 20 weeks old unless there is grave danger to the mother or baby.
Sharmishta, in her petition, claimed that she had suffered immense mental and physical anguish as a result of the unreasonable 20-week restriction on abortion under Sections 2(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act. She claimed that during a fetal echo-cardiography conducted on her on May 25, it was first suspected that the fetus suffered from Tetrology of Fallot, a combination of four impairments in the heart.
A medical board said the surgery on child will entail high morbidity and mortality rate. The bench also based its order on medical report saying the child would have to undergo cardiac surgery at every step
In June, Sarmishtha and her husband had filed a petition in the Supreme Court when they discovered the abnormalities in the fetus 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
“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.