Indian court allows woman rare abortion after 35 weeks because of spinal cord defect of foetus

·2-min read
Representational image: According to Indian law, a pregnant woman can undergo abortions up to 24 weeks. Beyond that, court permission is required (AFP via Getty Images)
Representational image: According to Indian law, a pregnant woman can undergo abortions up to 24 weeks. Beyond that, court permission is required (AFP via Getty Images)

An Indian court, in a rare order, has allowed a woman to terminate her pregnancy after 35 weeks due to the malformation of the foetus.

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday permitted the 36-year-old woman to get an abortion after it was discovered that the foetus had spina bifada, a rare incurable disorder.

While pronouncing its judgement, the court took into consideration the report of a nine-member medical board of the SSKM Hospital in the eastern city of Kolkata. Justice Rajasekhar Mantha said the medical board’s report made it clear and explicit that there were remote chances of the child surviving or even leading a normal life.

“Considering the entire gamut of facts and circumstances, this court permits the petitioner to medically terminate her pregnancy at an authorised hospital and/or medical facility,” the judge said.

He added that the team of doctors at the hospital had mentioned in the report that if the child is born with the help of any kind of medical intervention, it is likely to develop severe impairments and long-term ailments. The report had also said that the child, if born, would have “limited mortality”.

According to Indian law, a pregnant woman can undergo abortions up to 24 weeks. Beyond that, court permission is required. Courts make exceptions if abnormalities are detected in the foetus or if there are risks to the mother’s health.

In this case, the woman had approached the court citing risks to the child’s life.

The court, however, made the woman and her husband submit an undertaking that they would not blame anyone in case there are complications following the abortion.

“My clients have told the court that they are responsible if there is any problem in abortion,” the woman’s lawyer told News18. “Who doesn’t want to be a mother? But the decision is based on the danger to the life of the mother and the dark future of the 35-week-old foetus.”

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