Supreme Court Denies Termination of Over 27-Week Pregnancy, Cites Foetus’s Fundamental Right to Live

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, rejected a plea from a 20-year-old unmarried woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy beyond 27 weeks, emphasizing the fundamental right of the foetus to live. The bench, led by Justice B R Gavai, upheld the Delhi High Court’s decision from May 3, which had earlier denied the termination request.

During the proceedings, the justices, including S V N Bhatti and Sandeep Mehta, addressed the counsel’s arguments focused solely on the mother’s rights under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. “The child in the womb also has a fundamental right to live. What do you say about that?” the bench challenged.

The counsel argued that the Act primarily serves the mother’s interests, to which the bench replied, questioning the rights of the child to survive given that the pregnancy had advanced over seven months. Despite the petitioner’s counsel citing her severe traumatic conditions and societal pressures as she prepared for her NEET exams, the bench remained firm, responding simply with, “Sorry.”

The High Court, in its earlier ruling, had noted no congenital abnormalities in the foetus nor any danger to the mother that would necessitate terminating the pregnancy. “Since the foetus is viable and normal, and there is no danger to the petitioner to carry on with the pregnancy, foeticide would neither be ethical nor legally permissible,” the High Court had stated.

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This decision comes despite the petitioner discovering her pregnancy at 27 weeks following abdominal discomfort, a period beyond the 24-week legal limit for abortion under most circumstances per the MTP Act. The Act allows for abortion past this period only if significant foetal abnormalities are diagnosed, or if it is necessary to save the woman’s life, as assessed by a medical board.

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