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‘Can give up for adoption’: SC rejects woman’s plea to terminate 26-week pregnancy

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the plea of a married woman who has sought termination of her over 26-week healthy foetus on account of her illness.

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The SC said that since the length of pregnancy had crossed 24 weeks, medical termination of pregnancy cannot be permitted. This was based on an AIIMS report that found no abnormality in the foetus.

Caught on the horns of a moral dilemma over the rights of the unborn child and the woman’s right to her bodily autonomy, a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud noted the fresh report from the AIIMS medical board which confirmed that the petitioner is suffering from post-partum psychosis and the foetus hasn’t been adversely affected by her medication.

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The SC said that the woman’s parents can decide to give up the baby for adoption, adding that the woman would be admitted to AIIMS for delivery and the cost of the medical procedure would be borne by the state.

The top court said the challenge to pregnancy termination law will be dealt with in separate proceedings and the present case would be limited between the petitioner and the state.

The apex court had earlier sought a second opinion from the AIIMS medical board on whether the over 26-week foetus is suffering from any abnormality.

The bench was hearing arguments on the Centre’s application seeking recall of the apex court’s October 9 order permitting the 27-year-old woman, a mother of two, to undergo termination of pregnancy at AIIMS.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, the upper limit for the termination of pregnancy is 24 weeks for married women, special categories including survivors of rape, and other vulnerable women such as the differently-abled and minors.

The apex court is faced with a conundrum over whether to allow the woman to terminate the foetus which is now over 26 weeks old.

The issue arose after one of the doctors of the AIIMS medical board, which examined the woman and filed a report dated October 6 in the apex court, sent an e-mail on October 10 saying the foetus had a strong possibility of survival.

The matter came up before the CJI-led bench after a two-judge bench on Wednesday gave a split verdict on the Centre’s plea for recall of its October 9 order granting permission to the woman to end her pregnancy.

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