New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has allowed a 24-week pregnant woman to go for medical termination of pregnancy, as the the chances of survival of the foetus after birth were very remote.
Justice Rekha Palli, hearing the woman's plea seeking permission to undergo medical termination of her pregnancy under the Medication Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, stated that even if the newborn survives, his quality of life will be highly compromised and thus directed that the procedure of termination be carried out at the Lady Hardinge Hospital.
According to a report of the medical board constituted in the case, the foetus suffered from anencephaly, a type of neural tube defect which is "incompatible with life and non-viable after birth in 100% cases", the court recorded.
"(W)hen it is evident that in case the pregnancy is carried to term, the chances of survival of the anencephalic child are very remote and even if he survives, his quality of life will be highly compromised as he would need consistent medical care, I am of the considered view that the petition deserves to be allowed and the petitioner ought to be granted permission to undergo the procedure of medical termination of her pregnancy so that the foetus can be terminated immediately, especially keeping in view the fact that petitioner has already completed 24 weeks of gestation period," the judge said in her order dated October 6.
According to a report of the medical board constituted in the case, the foetus suffered from anencephaly, a type of neural tube defect which is "incompatible with life and non-viable after birth in 100% cases
The medical board also opined that the woman was "physically and psychologically fit to undergo the procedure for medical termination of pregnancy". The court also put on record its appreciation for the "expeditious steps" taken by Lady Hardinge Hospital in constituting the medical board for the examination of the pregnant woman. In her petition, the woman stated that the anencephaly resulted in a deformed vertebral column and omphalocele (a birth defect of the abdominal wall).
It was stated that the abnormalities came to the notice only when an ultrasound was carried out in late September.
What is Anencephaly
Anencephaly is a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. It is a type of neural tube defect (NTD). As the neural tube forms and closes, it helps form the baby's brain and skull (upper part of the neural tube), spinal cord, and back bones (lower part of the neural tube), as per CDC website.
Rules for Medical termination of pregnancy
The new Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021 has increased the maximum limit for allowing termination to 24 weeks for special categories of women, including survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (differently abled women, minors, among others). But the limits do not apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by a Medical Board.