According to Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, a woman is allowed to terminate her pregnancy provided the length of pregnancy did not exceed 20 weeks. But in a noteworthy judgement, Delhi High Court allowed a woman to terminate her 28-week pregnancy because the woman produced reports that the foetus was suffering from a rare congenital heart disease. The court termed it the reproductive right of a woman and called it her personal liberty.
Justice Jyoti Singh of Delhi High Court agreed that the woman will undergo acute mental distress if she went ahead with the pregnancy. “The petitioner (woman), in my view, is justified in contending that continuing with the pregnancy, once it is known that the foetus suffers from a rare congenital heart disease, which is a ‘substantial foetal abnormality’, with attendant complications and risks, would have a deleterious impact on her mental health.”
Since MTP act doesn’t allow women to terminate pregnancy beyond 20-week, the 33-year-old woman approached the court. She shared that she has been undergoing check ups from the 5th week of the pregnancy and an ultrasonography scan showed choroid plexus cyst in the left lateral ventricle of the foetus. “However, since the foetus was only 20-week-old, foetal echocardiography was not performed. On completion of 24 weeks, foetal echo-doppler test was done…and various anomalies were found in the heart of the foetus.”
Considering the foetal abnormality, the court said that it would be incorrect to deprive the woman of her rights to discontinue with a pregnancy that would cause her mental distress.
The medical report shared a report that stated that the child, if born, will have to undergo several cardiac surgeries. Additionally, they stated that it may also have airway problems wherein the child may require respiratory support in the first year of birth.
“This court cannot also overlook the opinion of the board that the child would require a cardiac surgery not only in the initial stage of life but may also need a repeat cardiac surgery in late adolescence or adulthood. This entire medical regime would expose the child to intra and post-operative complications and may lead to further complexities, adversely impacting the quality of the child’s life,” Justice Singh concluded.