Apex court to examine if abortion be allowed after 20 weeks

February 13th, 2009 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) Can women be allowed to undergo abortion beyond the 20th week of pregnancy, the legal limit, in case the foetus is detected with life threatening deformities? The lawsuit was put before the Supreme Court Friday by a Mumbai-based gynaecologist.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam Friday decided to examine the matter, admitting a lawsuit by Mumbai-based gynaecologist Nikhil D. Datter.

Datter approached the apex court challenging a Bombay High Court ruling which had denied permission to a woman to abort her foetus in the 25th week of pregnancy despite it being detected with a congenital heart block.

The Bombay High Court denied permission to 31-year-old Niketa to abort her foetus as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, does not allow termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks unless it is deemed to be harmful to the mother’s life or health.

Denied permission for abortion, the woman eventually underwent an accidental miscarriage at home, endangering her life.

In his lawsuit, Datter has sought amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, contending that a congenital heart disease can be detected in a foetus only after the 20th week of pregnancy when the heart gets properly developed.

He also pointed out that the present level of progress in medical science has ensured that a woman undergoing abortion even in the 40th week of pregnancy would face no more danger to her life than what she might have faced in the 20th week.

The doctor said the MTP Act was based on an expert committee report of 1960 when the available medical technologies did not allow abortion beyond 20th week.

The apex court has issued notices to the central and Maharashtra government for their stand on the issue.

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