The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a Mumbai-based woman, who is in her 24th week of pregnancy, to undergo termination of the foetus as it does not have a skull.
A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao allowed the 22-year-old woman to terminate her pregnancy while taking into consideration the report of the medical board of King Edward Memorial hospital in Mumbai which suggested that the foetus would not be able to survive without the skull.
“We consider it appropriate and in the interest of justice, particularly the right of the petitioner to preserve her life by permitting her to undergo the termination of pregnancy under the Medical Termination Of Pregnancy Act,” the bench said.
The bench also directed that the termination of pregnancy be performed by a team of doctors of the hospital which shall maintain a complete record of the procedure adopted in the matter.
Referring to the report of the seven-member medical board, the bench said, “the medical evidence clearly suggests that there is no point in allowing the petitioner to run the full course since the foetus would not be able to survive outside the uterus without a skull.” The woman had approached the apex court seeking permission to undergo the termination of pregnancy citing abnormalities in the foetus.
During the brief hearing, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the bench that as per the report of the medical board, the foetus has not got a “developed skull”.
“The ultrasonography has revealed that the foetus has an anomaly. Simply put, we are informed that the foetus is without a skull and therefore not in a position to survive,” the bench noted in its order.
The bench also observed that the petitioner understands the risk involved in continuing the pregnancy and her husband is also supporting her in her decision-making.
Referring to the report, the apex court said, “in other words, the foetus would not be able to survive”.
“Equally, rather more important is that it is reported that there is a risk to the mother in continuing the pregnancy. The continuance of pregnancy can gravely endanger the physical and mental health....,” it said.
The apex court had earlier constituted a medical board and asked it to examine the woman and submit a report about her condition and advisability of permitting a medical termination of pregnancy.
The law prohibits termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks, even if there is a fatal risk to the mother and the foetus.