Supreme Court says no to abortion of 26-week-old foetus with Down Syndrome

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Pregnant-Women-Benefit-from-Exercise-e1467981949995The Supreme Court on February 28 rejected the plea of a Maharashtra-based couple to abort their 26-week-old foetus that would be born with Down syndrome.

The court has passed the order as per the 46-year-old Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, which doesn’t allow the abortion of a child after the period of 20 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion after 20 weeks is permissible only, “if the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury, physical or mental health.”

According to the medical reports submitted by the doctors, the pregnancy is not life-threatening for the mother. The report further stated, “If the baby is born with Down syndrome, it is likely to have mental and physical challenges.” Babies born with Down syndrome suffer from mental retardation at various levels.”

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes developmental delays and physical abnormalities.

The judgement was passed by a bench comprising of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageswara Rao. The ruling stated “It is sad that the child may suffer from physical and mental challenges and it’s unfortunate for the mother but we can’t allow an abortion…We have a life in our hands.”

“In these circumstances, it is not possible to grant permission to terminate the life of the foetus,” the bench further added,

Earlier on February 7, the court had allowed abortion of a 24-week-old fetus by a 22-year-old woman based on the grounds that the pregnancy would put her life at risk.

In another case, a Mumbai-based woman was allowed the termination of her 24-week pregnancy when the medical reports revealed that the fetus would die without the skull.
In the meantime, the Centre is planning to extend the abortion limit from 20 to 24 weeks; however, the MTP amendment draft bill 2014 hasn’t been cleared yet.