The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a woman's plea to terminate her 26-weeks-old foetus because it suffered from Down Syndrome.
While the bench of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice L.N. Rao said that "we have a life in our hands," according to the Press Trust of India, it orally observed that it was "very sad for a mother to bring up a mentally retarded child," Hindustan Times reported.
"Everybody knows that children with down syndrome are undoubtedly less intelligent, but they are fine people," said the apex court, PTI reported.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, does not allow for termination of a foetus older than 20 weeks unless "it is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman." After taking into account the view of a medical board that concluded that there was no physical risk to the 37-year-old woman from Maharashtra, the Supreme Court said that there were no grounds to terminate the pregnancy.
The medical report said that the child might suffer from physical and mental problems, but there was no danger to the mother or the foetus, The Times of India reported. "It is sad that the child may suffer from physical and mental challenges and it's unfortunate for the mother but we can't allow an abortion...We have a life in our hands," the court said.
The woman has also challenged the validity of the existing law on the grounds that it restricts a woman's right, HT reported. While the Supreme Court tagged this with similar cases that challenge the 20-weeks limit, the woman's lawyer Colin Gonsalves said that no country except India had such restrictions, the newspaper reported.
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