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Delhi High Court Allows Woman’s Plea To Have An Abortion At 28 Weeks. Right Now, Abortion Is Allowed Till 20 Weeks

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At present there are more than 1200 laws in our country which fall under the legal framework of the Indian judicial system and have been put into place to protect and safeguard the interests of the citizens. From civil, to customary, common, religious and mixed, these set of laws and rights form the handbook of the boundaries within which we citizens can operate. But what happens when the very law that was put in place to protect us, actually ends up becoming the kind to endanger us? As what was going to happen to a woman in Delhi who was 28 weeks pregnant, if she wouldn’t have been allowed to get an abortion on an exceptional basis from the Delhi HC.

In a recent judgement passed by the Delhi HC, a woman who was 28 weeks pregnant and had filed a plea for abortion was allowed to get one done as an exception, after the medical board constituted by AIIMS said that her foetus suffered from anencephaly, a condition where the skull bone is not formed, and was therefore, incompatible with life. The Bench that took this decision comprised of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, who permitted the medical termination of the woman’s pregnancy based on the AIIMS report and plea.

Having announced to give out a bigger verdict soon enough, the bench observed the woman’s plea with much patience and understanding, that said, “an ultrasonography at the gestational age of 27 weeks 5 days found that the foetus suffered from anencephaly (skull bone not formed) thereby making it incompatible with life”. Knowing that this would be going against the law, where a woman is prohibited from an abortion of a fetus after 20 weeks of gestation under the The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, the woman still went ahead to ask for her right to abort, and we are glad to see that the court didn’t undermine her health.

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She went on to say in her plea that with advances in technology it was absolutely safe for a woman to abort a fetus at any point during her pregnancy and should be allowed to do so. She added, “by keeping the ceiling artificially low, women who obtain reports of serious foetal abnormality after the 20th week have to suffer excruciating pain and agony because of the deliveries that they are forced to go through”.

She also claimed in her plea that, “The ceiling of 20 weeks is therefore arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.” As special as childbirth is, a woman must not be forced to have a baby when the process is endangering her own health, and we’re delighted to see the topic being paid attention to.

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