SC asks for fresh reports from AIIMS on whether the fetus is suffering from any substantial abnormality; next hearing on Monday (October 16)

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Today, the Supreme Court (SC) of India was hearing the matter related to the medical termination of pregnancy of a 26-week pregnant woman. The matter was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud. The SC bench asked for fresh reports from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on whether the fetus is suffering from any substantial abnormality. CJI also asked for a fresh report on the woman’s health conditions in view of drugs taken for her postpartum depression. The matter is scheduled for further hearing on Monday (October 16, 2023). 

On October 12, 2023, CJI asked the petitioner's counsel “What do you want us to tell the doctors to do? To stop the fetal heart?” Along with this, the CJI also compared the current case with the case where a pregnant woman was a survivor of sexual violence or a minor stating, “She is a married woman. What was she doing for 26 weeks? She has two children, she knows the consequences also. What do you want us to tell the doctors to do? To close the fetal heart? AIIMS wants the court to issue that direction.” To this, the petitioner’s counsel nodded in disagreement.

CJI also remarked, “We must also think of the right of the unborn child. Woman's autonomy is important of course. She has a right under Article 21...but equally, we must be conscious of the fact that whatever is done will affect the right of the unborn child. Who is appearing for the unborn child? You're for the mother, Ms Bhati for the government...How do you balance the rights of the unborn child? It's a living viable fetus. Today its chances of survival are there but very likely that the Child would be born with deformities. If she waits for 2 more weeks…to put the child to death is the only option? How can the child be put to death under Judicial order?” 

While hearing the matter today, the SC asked for a fresh report from AIIMS and scheduled the next hearing for October 16.