Supreme Court Questions Restrictions on Late-Term Abortion for Rape Victims

The Supreme Court of India has raised questions regarding the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP Act), particularly the restriction on aborting pregnancies beyond 24 weeks, even in cases involving minor rape victims.

The court criticized the legislative assessment that suggests an abnormal fetus would have the most adverse impact on a pregnant woman’s condition, more so than other circumstances. The justices remarked that this evaluation does not seem to be based on scientific standards but rather on the assumption that an abnormal fetus causes the most harm.

The issue came to light during a case concerning the requested termination of a 28-week pregnancy of a minor rape victim. The Supreme Court noted that when pregnancies exceed 24 weeks, petitioners typically have to approach constitutional courts for permission to terminate, as per the MTP Act.

In such cases, a medical board is formed to assess whether the fetus is abnormal and to evaluate the mental and physical health of the pregnant woman.

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