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SC rejects plea to termite foetus with Down syndrome

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  1 March 2017 12:00 AM GMT

New Delhi, Feb 28: Relying on a medical board’s report, the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a woman’s plea seeking termition of her foetus fearing genetic disorder. The 37-year-old woman wanted to abort her 23-week-old foetus fearing it suffered from Down syndrome. However, the court said that there was no danger involved to the life of the mother and child if the pregncy was continued. A division bench of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice L. geswara Rao in an interim order took note of the report that the foetus, which was now 26 weeks old, has chances of surviving.

It said: “In these circumstances, it is not possible to grant permission to termite the life of the foetus.” The court said as per the report by the medical board, “mother has no physical risk in continuation of pregncy. As far as foetus is concerned, the baby born with Down syndrome was likely to have mental and physical challenges.”

The report clearly did not (possibly could not) observe that this particular foetus would have severe mental and physical challenges, said the bench. Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves sought termition of the foetus, saying as per the medical report the child was likely to have severe mental and physical challenges. The Centre also opposed the plea of the woman, saying the board did not favour abortion. The bench observed that it was sad that a mother has to bring up a severely mentally retarded child. Down syndrome is a congenital disorder which causes intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities.

Under the Medical Termition of Pregncy (MTP) Act, 1971, a pregncy could be termited in the normal course if it was up to 12 weeks old.

Pregncies between 12 to 20 weeks can be termited if in the opinion of two doctors the continuation of the pregncy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnt woman.

In her plea, the mother-to-be said that the law allowed termition of pregncy in extreme cases if it caused grave injury to the physical and mental health of the pregnt woman and if there was a substantial risk of the child suffering from physical and mental abnormalities after birth. She contended that Down syndrome was not curable and could cause physical and mental retardation to the child who would not have a normal and healthy life. (IANS)

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