NEW DELHI: Aiming to cut the delay in abortion time, especially for those women who have abnormalities in their foetus during pregnancy, the Centre Thursday informed the Supreme Court that it has written to all states and Union Territories asking them to set up permanent medical boards for abortion cases.
The statement from the government came even as the court permitted a Pune-based woman to abort her 24-week foetus suffering from abnormalities. Pune’s BJ Government Medical College, where the woman was examined, had informed the court there was no medical treatment for the anomaly. Doctors said there was a complete absence of brain and skull of the foetus and survival rate was minimal.
Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, told the apex court bench comprising justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao that all states and UTs have been asked to set up such medical boards at the earliest. “The medical boards will examine requests for termination of pregnancy and cut delays in abortion,” Kumar told the court.
Earlier, the court had urged the government to put in place a mechanism to examine requests for abortion when continuing with pregnancy post-20 weeks may endanger the life of the mother.
The need for the mechanism arose after parents of a 10-year-old rape victim approached the apex court when she was already 26 weeks pregnant. After that, all formalities ranging from forming a medical board took up time, and when the victim was finally denied permission to abort fearing risk for her life, she was 32 weeks into her pregnancy. She delivered a baby girl earlier in August.
Another 10-year-old rape survivor in Haryana, however, was allowed to abort her nearly 21-week foetus in May. Presently, Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTPA), 1971, bars abortion after the 20th week. “We consider it appropriate and in the interest of justice to allow termination of pregnancy,” the bench said in the instant case.
The apex court also took up another plea filed on behalf of a 13-year-old rape survivor seeking permission to terminate her pregnancy of 30 weeks. The bench, which had earlier set up a medical board of doctors from the Mumbai-based Sir J J Group of Hospitals to examine the victim, was informed that due to incessant rains in Mumbai, the minor has not been examined yet. The bench has fixed this matter for hearing on September 4.