Mumbai: A woman from Nashik, who is in the 30th week of pregnancy, has approached the Bombay High Court seeking permission for abortion saying a test has revealed that the foetus has a rare developmental birth defect.
The 33-year-old woman has a five-year-old son diagnosed with Downs Syndrome.
She and her husband have, thus, approached the high court seeking permission for medical termination saying that they are already caring for a specially-abled child, and forcing them to continue with the present pregnancy would cause them much physical and emotional trauma.
In their plea, filed through advocate Kuldeep Nikam last week, the couple urged the court to grant them relief saying that giving birth to another child with special needs would also impose the much financial burden upon them since the woman is a housewife and her husband runs a small business.
The medical report from the scan revealed that the foetus had ‘schizencephaly’, a rare developmental birth defect characterised by abnormal slits or clefts in the brain.
Such clefts cause developmental delays and delays in speech and language skills in a child. It can also cause seizures, and problems with brain-spinal cord communication, the plea said.
“Therefore, there is a substantial risk that if the child is born, it will not be able to have a normal life. Continuing with such pregnancy will also cause mental and physical trauma to the mother,” the plea said.
During the previous hearing, a bench of justices A S Oka and M S Sonak had directed a panel of medical experts at JJ Hospital in Mumbai to assess the health of the woman and the foetus, and recommend whether termination of the pregnancy at such a late stage could be permitted by the court.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act permits abortions after consultation with one doctor for up to 12 weeks.
Between 12 and 20 weeks, medical opinion of two doctors is required in such cases where the foetus has abnormalities, or in which the pregnant woman faces risks to her physical or mental well-being due to continuing with the pregnancy.
Beyond the 20-week limit, exceptions are legally permissible only if continuation of the pregnancy poses a threat to the child’s or the mother’s life.