By Dave Andrusko
On Monday. The Supreme Court of India turned down a request for an abortion performed on a baby who is between 26 and 27 weeks old.
The three justice panel — Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra — “noted that allowing termination at this stage would contravene Sections 3 and 5 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act [MTPA]. This law permits abortion up to 24 weeks, except for immediate threat to the mother’s life or foetal abnormalities,” according to the Minute.com.
The justices explained “that there was no imminent threat to the mother’s life, nor did the case involve foetal abnormalities. These are the sole exceptions for terminating a pregnancy beyond 24 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act,” the newspaper explained.
A two judge panel initially approved the abortion for the married woman with two children whose lawyer said she was “emotionally, financially, and physically unprepared to raise a third child due to postpartum psychosis.”
“The bench granted AIIMS the liberty to independently assess the petitioner’s mental and physical condition and directed the AIIMS medical board to evaluate the potential effects of the petitioner’s medication on the foetus.
“On October 16, the court received AIIMS’s report confirming the petitioner’s postpartum psychosis. The report stated that her medication had no adverse effects on the child. AIIMS also suggested an alternative treatment regimen to ensure no harm to the foetus. The doctors also found no abnormalities in the foetus.
The following day, “the government applied for the order’s reconsideration providing an email from an AIIMS doctor affirming the foetus’s viability and the necessity of specifically stopping its heartbeat.”
Upon receiving the report, the court questioned as to why the medical report came after the court order in the case was delivered,” Srishti Ojha and Sanjay Sharma reported.
Justice Kohli, half of the original two-justice panel, said “she was not willing to proceed with the earlier decision and wondered which Court would ask to stop the ‘heartbeat of a foetus that has life.’”
Based on this new evidence, the two justices spilt and the case was sent a larger bloc of justices
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the government, “argued that ‘After 24 weeks, once it is a viable life choice, termination is not allowed once the medical report says that the child is fine.’”
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, presenting the woman, countered “that international law did not confer overriding rights to an unborn child” and that “All abortions lead to the death of the foetus as it stills the heart of the child.”
When asked if he contended that a woman should be allowed to abort even at 33 weeks or in cases without foetal abnormalities, Gonsalves affirmed that there were no gestational restrictions. He referred to a statement by the World Health Organisation, suggesting that the 24-week guideline for termination was ‘obsolete’.
that India is regressive about abortion laws, the CJI [Chief Justice] disagreed, stating that each democracy operated within its distinct legal framework. He noted that advocating to override India’s statutes based on WHO statements was impractical. The bench clarified the state would cover all medical expenses, and the petitioner would have the final say on whether to keep the child after birth or put it up for adoption.