The Supreme Court today allowed a 26-year-old alleged rape victim to abort a 24-week old foetus with severe abnormalities (despite a ban on medical termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks) as a medical board ordered by it declared that there was a danger to the mother’s life.
A bench headed by Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar made it clear that the exception can be considered only in cases where a mother’s life is in danger. The Centre also admitted that the 20-week cap is not applicable in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
On Friday the court had asked Maharashtra government to set up a medical board to examine the mother. Maharashtra government agreed that it will be set up at Mumbai’s K E Medical College Hospital. The order came after the suggestion of Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar who appeared for the centre that a board be set up to examine the woman before proceeding ahead with the matter. Initially SG recommended a board at AIIMS, New Delhi but Senior lawyer Colin Gonsalves said the woman is in Mumbai and is sick to travel.
A bench headed by Justice Khehar had ordered that a report be placed before the bench today after which “other serious issues involved will be heard”. The foetus suffered from Anencephaly that is, it’s without major portion of brain, scull and scalp. She had earlier requested doctors to allow her abortion but what stood in the way was section 3 (2) (b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP), the Indian abortion law which prohibits termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks even if there was a fatal risk to the mother and the foetus.
The women Identifying herself as ‘Miss X’ – because of the social stigma attached to rape and unwed motherhood – the woman said to the media that she is from a poor family, and also facing physical and mental trauma after the incident. She has also filed rape charges against her former fiance, who reportedly married another woman.