Calcutta HC Refuses Medical Termination Of 31-Weeks Old Foetus With Heart Defect

Abortion laws
Calcutta HC Refuses Medical Termination of pregnancy: After consulting the report by the Medical Board which advised against the medical termination of pregnancy, the Calcutta High Court on November 3, denied permission to a woman to terminate her 31-week old foetus, who has a rare heart defect which affects the normal blood flow through the heart.

The woman who filed the petition had come to know of this situation on October 23, she was 31-weeks pregnant at that time. The foetus was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital defect. The Advocate Saswata Sarkar, on behalf of the petitioner, argued for permission to terminate the pregnancy citing that the foetus might not survive after birth and also pointed out that the nine-member medical board sought by the court did not have a pediatric cardiologist.

Advocate Sarkar cited Section 3(2B) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Union of India in 2019, the Guidance Note for Medical Boards for Termination of Pregnancy beyond 20 weeks can only be done in case of congenital abnormalities.

He further contended that the right to terminate comes under Article 21 of the Constitution which permits personal liberty. The woman has to go through an unwanted pregnancy that violates her right to sexual and reproductive freedom.

But despite these arguments Justice Md. Nizamuddin chose to go by the Medical Board and has denied permission for a termination. He also added that the State will take every possible measure to look after the safety of the child and mother as well as facilitate admission to the SSKM Hospital Calcutta.

Similar Case:

In 2019, the Calcutta High Court refused to let a woman terminate her 26-week old pregnancy on the ground of possible abnormalities because the foetus had developed most of its organs and the life of the mother was not at risk. The lawyers argued that the husband works at a private firm and the woman is a housewife, and they will not be able to finance the medicals for the to-be-born baby who had Down Syndrome as well as problems in the heart, abdomen and oesophagus. Later in the 29-week of gestation, the court allowed the termination.

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