• Hearing tomorrow on rape victim's plea for aborting 24-weeks old foetus

    July 22, 2016

    The Supreme Court of India today issued notice to the Centre and Maharashtra government on the urgent plea of an alleged rape victim seeking an extra ordinary permission to terminate her 24 week old foetus and said the hearing will take place tomorrow

    The foetus suffered from Anencephaly that is, its 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.

    Her lawyers told the bench that the foetus had no chance of surviving. A bench of justices J S Khehar, Kurian Joseph and Arun Mishra has asked the Centre and Maharashtra government to file their replies tomorrow in which they have to take a clear stand. The hearing will be held tomorrow Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves and Satya Mitra had mentioned the matter for urgent hearing, saying that in the present case, the life of the woman is in grave danger. If the woman succeeds, it kindles hope for the lakhs of women forced to give birth to abnormal or stillborn babies every year.

    Human Rights Law Network said in the petition: The 20 week period may have been reasonable when the section as enacted in 1971 but has ceased to be reasonable today where technology has advanced and it is perfectly safe for a woman to abort even up to the 28th week and thereafter”.

    “Determination of fetal abnormality in many cases can only be done after the 20th week and by keeping the ceiling artificially low, women who obtain reports of serious fetal abnormality after the 20th week have to suffer excruciating pain and agony on account of the deliveries that they are forced to go through. The ceiling of 20 weeks is therefore arbitrary, harsh and discriminatory and violative of right to equality and right to life of the Constitution”, they said.


    Sometimes law does need revisions and the abortion laws in India do need revisions for sure. As per a WHO estimate, Out of the 26 million births that occur in India every year, approximately 2-3 per cent foetuses have a severe congenital or chromosomal abnormality. The whole purpose is cruel of asking the mother to deliver a baby without life. We hope that the Supreme Court views the case in the right spirit and grants the wishes of the mother. After all, trauma is all that she will undergo if the baby is born. 

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