SC recalls order to terminate the pregnancy after the AIIMS doctor suggests chances of fetus being born; bench to oversee the case tomorrow

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Today (October 10, 2023), the Supreme Court of India asked AIIMS (All India Institutes of Medical Sciences) to ‘hold for now’ the medical termination of pregnancy for a 26-week pregnant married woman. In yesterday’s (October 09, 2023) hearing, she was permitted to proceed with medical termination of her pregnancy but upon apprehension raised by the AIIMS doctors that the fetus may have a chance of being born, recall of the SC order to terminate the pregnancy was sought by the Union. During the hearing, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud noticed that “AIIMS doctors are in a very serious dilemma;” therefore, told them to hold the procedure for now as the SC would constitute a bench tomorrow (October 11, 2023) for hearing the recall application of the Union. 

During the court proceedings on October 09, a bench of Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Hima Kohli permitted the petitioner to terminate the pregnancy of a married woman (who is a mother of 2 children) after observing that she was suffering from post-partum depression. The bench said, “At the end of the day, this Court does recognize the decisional autonomy of the petitioner herein, who has taken a plea for her physical, psychological, mental, financial, and socioeconomic backgrounds, to seek termination of her pregnancy. This Court does recognize the right of a woman over her body and the fact that if an unwarranted pregnancy results in a child being brought into the world, a large part of the responsibility of rearing such a child will fall on the shoulder of the petitioner, which at this point she doesn’t consider herself fit for.”

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the Union was against the order of the Supreme Court and argued that “The termination was recommended by the court despite the medical board saying that the baby had a viable chance of being born. They should have to conduct a foeticide.” CJI further asked the Union “Can you come with a formal application for recall? We will place before the bench which passed the order…The AIIMS doctors are in a very serious dilemma. The child will be born as a viable fetus…Ms. Bhati is giving an application for recall. I’ll constitute a bench tomorrow morning. Ask AIIMS to hold for now.” In this context, the CJI told the AIIMS doctors to hold for now the procedure to terminate the pregnancy of the 26-week pregnant married woman. He also told the Union that a bench would be constituted tomorrow to hear its recall application. 

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