The Supreme Court on Monday permitted the termination of a 24-week-old pregnancy after medical reports said the foetus has severe abnormalities and could gravely endanger the "mental and physical health" of the mother-to-be.
The bench comprising Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice Arun Mishra, after perusing the report of a medical board of KEM Hospital, Mumbai, said, "We grant the liberty to terminate the pregnancy by the pregnant mother in accordance with law."
The report by a team of seven doctors came in pursuance to the court's order on Friday to examine the pregnant woman, who is a rape victim, and give its opinion on her plea seeking direction for the termination of pregnancy.
Pointing to "severe multiple congenital deformities" in the 22 to 24-week-old foetus, the report by the medical board said there was absence of skull, and liver, intestines and stomach were floating in the absence of covering of the stomach.
Besides "severe multiple congenital deformities" in the foetus, what clinched the issue in favour of terminating 24 week pregnancy was part of the report which said the "condition gravely threatens the physical and mental health" of the expectant mother.
Taking the court through various provision of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that under the law, a pregnancy can be terminated within 12 weeks and also before or upto 20 weeks with some more stringent conditions.
He said after 20 weeks and upto 24 weeks, the pregnancy can be terminated only if there is threat to the life of the expectant mother. He said there is bar on the termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks because medically between 22 to 24 weeks, a life comes into being.
Citing the medical report, the Attorney General said that case before the court was covered under Section 54 of the act.