In its another humanitarian judgement, the apex court on January 16, gave nod to a woman hailing from Mumbai to abort her foetus in 24th week of pregnancy. According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, a woman could undergo abortion within 20 weeks of pregnancy but this woman came to know about the foetus without a skull in her 21st week of gestation. The Act only gives permission for abortion after 20th week until certain medical criteria are met.
“My wife was beyond 20 weeks when we found out about the condition of the baby. I called my brother-in-law who is a doctor who then introduced me to Dr. Sangeeta Pikale. Dr. Nikhil Datar helped us take the fight to the Supreme Court,” said the women’s husband Santosh Pal who works as a freelance computer typist in Mumbai.
A medical board of King Edward Memorial hospital in a report recommended the Supreme Court about the seriousness of the pregnancy and suggested that the foetus would not be able to survive without a skull. The medical board also said that the foetus is suffering from anacephaly, a condition where there is absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp and occurs during embryonic development.
“We consider it appropriate and in the interest of justice, particularly the right of the petitioner to preserve her life by permitting her to undergo the termination of pregnancy under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,” the Bench consisting of Justices S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao said.
The Bench also ordered that the termination of the pregnancy be performed by qualified doctors.
As several doctors refused to terminate the pregnancy since it was past the legal deadline, Santosh had to struggle a lot to get their child aborted.
“I should have the right to make the decision. The private sector has supported us or else this would not have been possible. For the past 22 days, despite the tremendous support I had, I had to run from pillar-to-post,” Santosh said while showing his unhappiness over SC’s decision of choosing King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM) in Parel.
Keywords-Supreme Court, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, King Edward Memorial hospital, anacephaly, Abortion in India, Santosh Pal, Mira Pal