Delhi High Court gives woman permission to abort 28 week old unborn baby

By Dave Andrusko

Last week NRL News Today reported that an unidentified 25-year-old woman had asked the Delhi High Court for permission to abort her 28-week-old unborn baby on the grounds that the baby has anencephaly.

On Monday, a two-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, granted her permission after an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS ) medical board “said her foetus can be aborted as it suffered from anencephaly, a condition where the skull bone is not formed,” the Hindu news service reported.

As NRL News Today has often discussed, India’s Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of gestation.  But we have reported, this barrier is  being breached on a regular basis.

According to News 18 India, last Thursday Chief Justice Patel and Justice Singh referred her request to AIIMS  “to examine the woman and give a report on the feasibility of terminating her pregnancy by January 11, the next date of hearing.” 

Since the baby is far older than 20 weeks, the woman successfully challenged the 20 week limit provision of the 1971 Act, contending “that with advances in technology it was perfectly safe for a woman to abort a fetus at any point during her pregnancy.” (Emphasis added.)

“The ceiling of 20 weeks is therefore arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India,” the petition asserts.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2015, about 15.6 million unborn babies were aborted in India.

At 28 weeks, an unborn baby has long since reached viability and is pain-sensitive.  Moreover, as the Mayo Clinic website explains,

By now your baby might be nearly 10 inches (250 millimeters) long from crown to rump and weigh nearly 2 1/4 pounds (1,000 grams).  …

[Y]our baby’s eyelids can partially open and eyelashes have formed. The central nervous system can direct rhythmic breathing movements and control body temperature.

Additionally, according to WebMD [www.webmd.com/baby/interactive-pregnancy-tool-fetal-development?week=28], a baby at 28 weeks

can do all sorts of things — blink, cough, hiccup, and possibly even dream.

In addition, the story does not indicate exactly when the baby’s age was calculated. In addition, when the woman won her challenge, the child would be at least a week older. 

Compounding this tragic news, India TV News reported that the law is all but surely going to be altered:

In January this year, the union cabinet had approved the Medical Termination Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which provides for enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women including survivors of rape, the victim of incest, and other vulnerable women, like differently-abled and minors.