Nation Current Affairs 01 Mar 2017 Supreme Court says n ...

Supreme Court says no to abort 23-week-old foetus with Down syndrome

Published Mar 1, 2017, 1:50 am IST
Updated Mar 1, 2017, 8:29 am IST
Foetus suffering from Down syndrome does not affect woman’s life, says Board.
Supreme Court of India (Photo: AP)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: AP)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant permission to a 37-year-old woman from Maharashtra to terminate her 23-week-old foetus, taking note of a report of the medical board that abortion was not advisable.

The foetus is diagnosed to suffer from Down syndrome. A Bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao perused the report of a panel of doctors from Mumbai’s KEM Hospital that the baby had chances of survival and, therefore, abortion should not be performed.


Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar for the Centre also opposed abortion. The woman from Alibaug sought Supreme Court’s permission for abortion because the law does not allow a woman to abort if her pregnancy crosses 20 weeks.

The Bench said, “As per the report of the medical board, there is no physical risk to the mother to continue with the pregnancy. Everybody knows that children with Down syndrome are undoubtedly less intelligent, but they are fine people.”

The bench said that as per the report, the foetus is “likely to have mental and physical challenges” but the advice of the doctors does not warrant termination of pregnancy.

“With this report, we don’t think we are going to allow the termination of pregnancy. We have a life in our hands.

“In these circumstances, as per the present advice, it is not possible to grant permission to terminate the pregnancy,” the bench said.

Termination of pregnancy is allowed in extreme cases if continuation is likely to cause grave injury to the woman’s health and/or increase or induce a risk of abnormalities in the child.

The woman’s counsel, Colin Gonsalves, said if a foetus is detected with Down’s syndrome before the 20-week ceiling, doctors advise abortion.

The advocate said no other country in the world had restrictions like the one under the Indian law.

This is the third such case in which pregnant women have approached the Supreme Court for permission to abort a defective or under-developed foetus beyond the legally permissible 20-week limit.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi