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‘Abnormal’ foetus abortion case: SC asks for medical exam of alleged rape survivor

An alleged rape survivor who wants to abort her 24-weeks-old 'abnormal' foetus.

New Delhi: A medical board will be set up at a Mumbai hospital to examine the condition of an alleged rape survivor who wants to abort her 24-weeks-old 'abnormal' foetus, the Supreme Court on Friday said.

A bench headed by Justice JS Khehar asked the medical board to examine the woman at King Edward Memorial College and Hospital at Mumbai, by tomorrow and submit its report to the apex court on Monday.

The bench also comprising Justice Arun Mishra said the report of the medical board with regard to the woman's condition will be assessed and if necessary, some directions will be passed.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the woman, will ensure that she reaches the hospital by tomorrow for her examination, it said.

Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said that the Centre was ready to constitute a medical board at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where the woman could be examined.

Gonsalves said that the condition of the woman, who is at present in Mumbai, is very bad and she will not be able to travel to Delhi.

"Delay in these matters is very bad. There should not be any delay in these matters," the bench said, adding that a larger issue of law will be dealt with separately.

"The issue at hand is not that simple. It will be dealt with separately," it said.

The apex court had yesterday sought reply from the Centre and the Maharashtra government on the plea of the woman.

The alleged rape survivor has also challenged the constitutional validity of the provisions of the abortion law which prohibits termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks even if there is a fatal risk to the mother and the foetus.

In her petition, the woman has alleged that she was raped by her ex-fiance on the false promise of marriage and became pregnant and sought a direction to quash section 3 (2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 to the extent that it puts a ceiling of 20 weeks for an abortion as it is ultra vires to Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

Her plea contended that the ceiling is unreasonable, arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violative of the right to life and equality.

The woman has also sought an order for the Centre to provide necessary directions to hospitals for setting up an expert panel of doctors to assess the pregnancy and offer medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) at least to those women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence and have passed the period of 20 weeks.

The woman, who is in 24th week of pregnancy, said she belongs to a poor background and her physical and mental health have been put at risk due to the 20 weeks limit for abortion as her foetus suffers from anencephaly (a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull) but doctors have refused to abort it.

She said the foetus has abnormalities and will cause mental distress to the mother and challenged the constitutional validity of section 3(2) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act prescribing a ceiling of 20 weeks.

The plea also said the expression "save the life of the pregnant woman" in Section 5 of the MTP Act, should include "the protection of the mental and physical health of the pregnant woman" and also incorporate situations where serious abnormalities in the foetus are detected after the 20th week of pregnancy.

The apex court is already hearing plea of Mumbai-based doctor Nikhil D Datar, who had also raised the same issue in 2009 and sought an amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

From Zee News

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