NEW DELHI: In what could once again be a landmark judgement on abortion, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to allow a woman to abort her 26-week-old foetus that showed signs of Down’s Syndrome.
Down’s Syndrome is a congenital disorder which causes intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities and can be detected through various screening tests at the second trimester (18-20 weeks).
Though the apex court said that one can abort a 20-week-old foetus in cases where the life of either mother or the baby is in danger, after considering the report of the medical board, a bench of Justices SA Bobde and LN Rao said, “As per a report of the medical board constituted to examine the 37-year-old woman, there was no physical risk to the mother in continuation of pregnancy. Everybody knows that children with Down’s Syndrome are undoubtedly less intelligent, but they are fine people.”
Citing the report further, the bench said, “The foetus is likely to have mental and physical challenges, but the advice of the doctors does not warrant termination of pregnancy. With this report, we don’t think we are going to allow termination of pregnancy. We have a life in our hands.”
The bench had on February 23 constituted a medical board comprising doctors of Mumbai-based KEM Hospital to examine the woman and file a report about her condition and advisability of permitting medical termination of pregnancy forthwith.
In a separate case, the apex court had on February 7 allowed a 22-year-old woman to terminate her 24-week pregnancy on the ground that it would endanger her life.