SC allows abortion of ailing foetus

In News

Supreme Court allowed a woman to abort her over 20-week-old foetus with severe abnormalities.


Woman approached the Supreme Court seeking permission to abort her foetus after she discovered that it suffered from a severe form of cardiac impairment called pulmonary atresia. The law does not permit abortion if the foetus is over 20 weeks old.

About Women’s right

  • Right of a woman to have a reproductive choice was part of personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution..
  • Every woman had a sacrosanct right to bodily integrity.
  • The court wanted to stretch the law on abortion that would allow termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks if the foetus suffered from severe abnormalities.
  • It had referred the present case to a medical Board for an expert opinion.

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971

  • The act bars abortion if the foetus has crossed the 20-week mark.
  • An exception to the law is made if a registered medical practitioner certifies to a court that the continued pregnancy is life-threatening for the mother or the baby.

Recent Verdict

  1. Court refused the plea of an HIV-positive rape victim, a destitute from Patna, to abort her 26-week-old foetus after the medical report concluded that the abortion would be risky to both the woman and the child. Instead, the court ordered the Bihar government to pay the 35-year-old a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh.
  2. Court had refused a woman’s request for permission to abort her 26-week-old foetus diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder. The court pointed Down’s Syndrome did not qualify as a life-threatening factor. There was no physical risk to the mother from the pregnancy.

Global Practice

  • Currently, more than 60% of the world’s people live in countries where induced
    Center for Reproductive Rights
    Source :  Center for Reproductive Rights

    abortion is permitted either for a wide range of reasons or without restriction as to reason.

  • In contrast, more than 25% of all people reside in countries where abortion is generally prohibited.
  • Nearly 14% live in countries where abortion is permitted to preserve the woman’s health.



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