28-week-old fetus’ right to life trumps right to abort: SC | India News

NEW DELHI: Putting a premium on a 28-week-old fetus‘s right to life, Supreme Court Wednesday declined a 20-year-old unmarried woman’s plea to let her terminate her pregnancy, even though it had allowed rape survivors or minors to abort much beyond the 24-week outer limit prescribed under Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. SC said, “The child in the womb has a fundamental right to live.”
Can’t pass order contrary to MTP Act mandate: SC
When the woman’s counsel argued for permission to terminate the pregnancy saying she is highly traumatised because of social stigma, a bench of Justices B R Gavai, S V N Bhatti and Sandeep Mehta asked, “Her pregnancy is more than seven months old.How do you address the right to life of a foetus which is fully developed? The child in the womb also has a fundamental right to live.”
The counsel said, “right of a child to live materialises only after it is born. The MTP Act only protects the mother’s well-being and health. The unmarried woman is highly traumatised and is unable to face society because of unwanted pregnancy.”
But the right to life of a healthy 28-week-old foetus trumped the mother’s right to abort as the bench dismissed her appeal against the Delhi HC’s May 3 order. Justice Gavai-led bench said it cannot pass any order contrary to the mandate of MTP Act especially when the ultrasound report stated that the baby in the womb is fully developed and in fine health.
Section 3 of the MTP Act provides that when the length of pregnancy is within 20 weeks it may be terminated by a registered medical practitioner if an opinion is reached in good faith that continuance of the same would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant women or cause grave injury to her physical or mental health or there is a risk to the child or that it will suffer from abnormalities.
Justice Subramonium Prasad of Delhi HC had rejected her plea for termination of pregnancy: “Since the foetus is normal, and there is no danger to the petitioner to carry on with the pregnancy, feticide would neither be ethical nor legally permissible. The petitioner would have to be induced for delivering the child and such delivery could be detrimental to mental and physical health of the newborn since it would be a pre-term delivery. It could also be detrimental to the mother for her future pregnancies.”

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