Written by: Arushi Bansal (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) of a lady with mild mental impairment who is pregnant with a child having a rare genetic disease has been approved by the high court.
Women’s rights were emphasized in the case of Karthika Sumesh v. the State of Kerala. The Kerala High Court has ruled that a woman has the right to choose whether or not to continue their pregnancy, while allowing women with modest mental and physical disabilities to abort their pregnancy. On that account, the court permits the termination by mentioning, “The freedom of a pregnant woman in choosing as to whether the pregnancy should be continued or not, cannot be taken away”. Likewise, the right of the mother to terminate the pregnancy medically even after the permissible period in terms of the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act has been recognized by the court, if there is a substantial risk that if the child born would suffer from abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. Abortion of a kid is only permitted up to 20 weeks, and after that, termination is only permitted at the expense of the pregnant woman’s life. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act mentioned this.
The woman and her husband have filed a petition to have their 22-week-old pregnancy aborted because it would endanger the mother’s life and result in physical and mental defects in the infant. The couple has addressed the court, requesting that the woman need to terminate her foetus surgically which is 22-week-old. She was refused to terminate her child as time limit of termination has passed which is 20weeks according to MTP Act. So, after hearing the case, the court ordered the Permanent Medical Board at the Medical College Hospital in Kottayam to investigate the woman’s situation and report back.
The court asked the board to submit the answers to two leading questions that were:-
1) Is there any threat to the life of a woman or her mental and physical conditions?
2) Is there any danger to the life of her child if born, would the child suffer from physical or mental abnormalities?
Answering the questions, the Board mentioned in its report that the foetus is suffering from Klinefelter’s Syndrome. It is a chromosomal anomaly that leads to inconstant mental abnormality, endocrine issues, and also psychological problems which are not endangered to life. The woman also has mental retardation, left lower limb weakness with a non-curable impairment of 55 percent, vision difficulties, and seizures, according to the Board. As a result of these factors, the Board recommended that the pregnancy be terminated.
All of this case is being heard by a single judge, Justice PB Suresh Kumar, who allowed the termination of the pregnancy of a 22-week-old foetus after considering that the abnormality detected in the foetus might not threaten life, but the mother has mild symptoms of mental disability and may not be able to rear a child who demands of a disabled person.