A 25-year-old woman who approached the Supreme Court to undergo abortion was denied permission on Monday by the apex court despite being diagnosed with a foetal abnormality since her medical reports showed she had reached an advanced stage of gestation.
Based on a report submitted by Parel’s KEM Hospital, the SC observed that the Kandivli resident’s baby suffered from Arnold Chiari syndrome type 2 that leads to underdeveloped brain and distorted spine. This was the Kandivli resident’s first pregnancy and she was regularly visiting Kandivli Shatabdi Hospital for consultation.
According to a doctor, the woman underwent her first sonography in the 15th week when the defect was not diagnosed. In her second sonography in the 24th week, the deformity was diagnosed. By then, it was too late to undergo medical termination of pregnancy.
“She is a victim of system failure. It is socio-economic poor patients like her who need help and the system fails them the most,” said Dr Nikhil Datar, gynaecologist who advised her on legal course after diagnosis. The hearing of the case allegedly got delayed due to Holi. By the time the KEM report came, she had entered 27th week of gestation.
The court headed by Justice SA Bobdey and Justice L Nageshwara Rao denied permission to undergo abortion following the report. According to Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, a woman can undergo abortion legally before 20 weeks of gestation period. In certain cases, however, deformities are diagnosed beyond the capped period.
The woman will now be forced to complete full pregnancy period and give birth to the baby. Survival in Arnold Chiari syndrome, that occurs in one of every 1,000 births, is rare although other types of this malformation can be treated, certain medical papers suggest.