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SC allows Kolkata-based woman to abort 23-week pregnancy

SNS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Kolkata-based Sharmishta Chakraborty to abort her more than 23-week pregnancy, saying the woman has the right to decide whether she should have a child or not.

The apex court said a woman has sacrosanct right over her bodily integrity and that this right is recognised under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The woman wanted to undergo abortion on grounds of foetus abnormality.

Earlier on June 23, the apex court bench had constituted a medical board of seven doctors from SSKM hospital in Kolkata to look into the matter. The bench asked medical board to submit a report on mother and foetus’ health by June 29.

Sharmishta and her husband, in their petition, had claimed that the foetus had severe complications and may die if allowed to be born.

In her petition, Sharmishta had stated that 26 million births that occur in India every year, approximately 2-3 percent of the foetuses have a severe congenital or chromosomal abnormality. Many suffer Intrauterine Foetal Death (IUFD) or are still-born. It is possible to detect certain abnormalities before 20 weeks while other abnormalities can be detected only after 20 weeks.

On June 24, the court wanted to stretch the law on abortion that will allow termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks if the foetus is suffering from severe abnormalities.

The Supreme Court bench of Justices YV Chandrachud and SK Kaul said they needed to stretch the law a little bit while considering a petition by a pregnant woman wanting to abort her 23-week foetus.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTP) restricts an abortion in case of a fetal abnormality to 20 weeks of pregnancy. The government has, for long, been putting breaks on the amendment to MTP Act, arguing that it would give rise to illegal sex selection and abortion rackets.