Calcutta High Court rejects woman's plea to abort 26-week-old foetus with Down Syndrome, says 'no harm to mother's life'

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday refused permission to a woman to terminate her 26-week-old pregnancy on the ground of possible abnormality since the foetus has already developed most of its organs, and that the mother's life is not at risk.

Press Trust of India January 30, 2019 08:38:31 IST
Calcutta High Court rejects woman's plea to abort 26-week-old foetus with Down Syndrome, says 'no harm to mother's life'
  • Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that involves birth defects, intellectual disabilities and characteristic facial features

  • As per Indian law, a high court's permission is required to end a pregnancy that is more than 20 weeks old

  • The court held that the rights of the foetus need to be considered vis a vis the mental trauma the woman will suffer in giving birth to a child with an abnormality

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday refused permission to a woman to terminate her 26-week-old pregnancy on the ground of possible abnormality since the foetus has already developed most of its organs, and that the mother's life is not at risk.

A medical board at the state-run SSKM Hospital has, in a report to the court, said the prognosis of the baby is likely to be better if it is delivered near term, i.e., the full term of pregnancy.

Refusing permission to terminate the pregnancy, Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty noted that the report said it does not appear that the petitioner's life will be in danger if her pregnancy is continued.

The medical board said test reports have suggested that the foetus is suffering from Down Syndrome, along with problems in the oesophagus, heart and abdomen.

Calcutta High Court rejects womans plea to abort 26weekold foetus with Down Syndrome says no harm to mothers life

A model of a foetus. Reuters

Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that involves birth defects, intellectual disabilities and characteristic facial features and it often involves heart defects, visual and hearing impairments and other health problems. The severity of all these problems varies greatly among affected individuals.

Passing the order, Justice Chakraborty observed that the rights of the foetus need to be considered vis a vis the mental trauma the woman will suffer in giving birth to a child with abnormality.

The woman had moved the high court on 22 January after several tests indicated these abnormalities in the foetus and doctors whom she consulted had advised termination of pregnancy, her lawyers Kallol Basu and Apalak Basu said.

According to the Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971, permission of high court is required to end a pregnancy that is 20 weeks or more old.

The woman's lawyers submitted that there is a meagre chance of a healthy baby being born.

The couple already has a child born in 2004. While the husband works in a private firm, the woman is a housewife.

The lawyers submitted that the couple will be financially constrained given the cost of nurturing the baby if it is born with deformities.

Opposing the prayer, Additional Advocate General Abhratosh Majumdar submitted that it is not advisable to terminate the pregnancy at this stage since there is every possibility that the baby will survive.

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