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'26-week-old Foetus Has Right to Life': Calcutta HC Refuses Permission to Terminate Pregnancy

While her husband is a daily wage worker, she is a housewife and the family survives on frugal means. She had approached the court on the grounds that she would not have the adequate financial means to raise a child with Down Syndrome.

Prema Rajaram | CNN-News18

Updated:January 29, 2019, 8:45 PM IST
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'26-week-old Foetus Has Right to Life': Calcutta HC Refuses Permission to Terminate Pregnancy
File Photo of Calcutta High Court.

Kolkata: The Calcutta High court on Tuesday turned down a plea of a 39-year-old woman to abort her 26-week-old foetus considering that the medical report did not suggest danger to the mother’s life.

Refusing permission to terminate the pregnancy, Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty noted the medical report did not suggest the petitioner's life would be in danger if her pregnancy was continued.

However, the petitioner’s lawyer, Kalol Basu, said, “The court ruled that Section 5 of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 creates a bar, but, the condition of the mother is not such that warrants intervention of the court.”

A medical board at the state-run SSKM Hospital has, in a report to the court, suggested that the foetus is suffering from Down Syndrome along with problems in the oesophagus, heart and abdomen, but said the prognosis of the baby is likely to be better if it is delivered near term, i.e., the full term of pregnancy.

Her lawyers, however, said the medical report does not mention the mental condition of the mother.

Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that involves birth defects, intellectual disabilities and characteristic facial features and it often involves heart defects, visual and hearing impairments and other health problems.

Passing the order, Justice Chakraborty said the rights of the foetus need to be considered vis a vis the mental trauma the woman will suffer in giving birth to a child with abnormality.

The petitioner’s other lawyer Apalav Basu said, “The court observed that in the 3rd phase of pregnancy, the foetus has all organs developed and that the unborn foetus has some rights. Just because the agony of the parents is taken into consideration, the rights of foetus should not be brushed aside.”

The doctors have said the child is likely to survive the initial years after birth under neonatal care.

The petitioner, who has a 14-year-old child, had appealed to the high court on January 22 after several tests indicated the abnormalities.

She had approached the court on the grounds that she would not have the adequate financial means to raise a child with Down Syndrome.

While her husband is a daily wage worker, she is a housewife and the family survives on frugal means.

The lawyers submitted that the couple will be financially constrained given the cost of nurturing the baby if it is born with deformities.

Opposing the prayer, additional advocate general Abhratosh Majumdar submitted that it is not advisable to terminate the pregnancy at this stage since there is every possibility that the baby will survive​.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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