HC orders examination of 33 week pregnant woman for abortion after foetus suffered from cerebral abnormalities

HC orders examination of 33 week pregnant woman for abortion, her foetus suffered from cerebral abnormalities | File Image

New Delhi: Delhi High Court on Friday directed the government’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital to examine a 33-week woman who sought a direction for medical termination of her pregnancy since her foetus “suffered from cerebral abnormalities.”

A single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba Singh said Friday, “Considering the gestational period of the petitioner herein, the medical board of LNJP is directed to conduct a medical examination of the petitioner (woman) today itself and submit a report to this court. The said report be sent through email to the court master on the evening of Sunday i.e., 4th December 2022 and be placed before this court on Monday i.e. 5th December 2022.”

The court then directed that the matter be listed as first supplementary on December 5. The 26-year-old woman claimed that when she went for an ultrasound scan at a Noida hospital on November 12 — at the gestational age of 30 weeks and 1 day — an abnormality was observed in the foetus for the first time.

The woman underwent another ultrasound scan on November 14

The woman underwent another ultrasound scan on November 14 and the abnormality was confirmed.

On November 28, the woman underwent further medical examination at a hospital in Greater Noida, where it was again confirmed that the foetus had cerebral abnormalities. She was then advised about medical termination of pregnancy and applicable laws.

On November 29, she approached GTB Hospital in New Delhi but her request for medical termination of pregnancy was rejected on the premise that the process required “judicial intervention since the gestational age is beyond the permissible limits”, i.e. 24 weeks, as per the amended Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

24-week limit is not applicable

The plea claims that the 24-week limit is not applicable “since the foetus borne by the petitioner (woman) carries substantial cerebral abnormalities, as a result of which grave mental injury is being caused to the petitioner herein”.

The woman has sought enforcement of her right to life as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution, saying that dismissal of the request to terminate pregnancy would cause her grave mental injury.

Though her foetus has a ‘life-long abnormality that would cause seizures in the child’, the GTB Hospital here denied the 26-year-old an abortion saying the process required ‘judicial intervention’ since the gestational age is beyond 24 weeks.

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