Kerala HC gives nod to abort 21-week IVF foetus

She had waited for more than a decade to conceive naturally. As hopes started waning, after much deliberation she turned to in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Published: 29th September 2019 03:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th September 2019 03:37 AM   |  A+A-

A human foetus (ENS)

Express News Service

KOCHI: She had waited for more than a decade to conceive naturally. As hopes started waning, after much deliberation she turned to in vitro fertilisation (IVF). But 21 weeks into the pregnancy, destiny played its cruel game as a medical diagnosis proved the foetus was suffering from various deformities, which can adversely affect the health of the mother and the baby.

Fighting her emotions, the 37-year-old Kollam native made the hard decision to medically terminate the pregnancy. However, under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, abortion is not permissible after 20 weeks. 

Considering the complexities involved and the health of the mother, the Kerala High Court finally gave the woman permission to undergo the procedure for medical termination at her own risk, putting an end to the ordeal of the family. Justice P B Suresh Kumar issued the order while allowing the petition filed by the woman.

The woman submitted before the Kerala High Court that she is more than 20 weeks pregnant and that she and the foetus suffer from severe abnormalities. As per the scan reports, fatal defects were found in the foetus as its head size appeared disproportionately large. Therefore, continuance of pregnancy would adversely affect the mental and physical health of the mother, the plea stated.

When the petition came up for hearing, the court ordered to constitute a medical board. Government Pleader B Vinitha informed the court that a medical board consisting of six doctors was constituted and they had said there would be a high chance of obstetric haemorrhage and subsequent problems if she undergoes the procedure for termination of pregnancy. 

However, the woman stuck to her decision. Her husband and brother, who were present in the court, submitted before the court that it was the decision of the family. The right of the mother to terminate the pregnancy even after 20 weeks, if the foetus is suffering from serious deformities and abnormalities, has been recognised by Supreme Court in Shaikh Ayesha Khatoon vs Union of India in 2018, they argued.
Considering this, the court granted permission at her own risk. The court held that Sree Avittam Thirunal Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, is free to undertake the procedure.


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