A medical board needs to be set up in cases a pregnancy beyond 12 weeks need to be terminated, keeping in mind severe abnormalities of the foetus or danger to the life of the mother or child. The Kerala High Court in its single judge bench consisting of Justice P.V Asha allowed the termination of a pregnancy that exceeded the mandated 12 week limit under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, in the matter of Thushara George & Reby Jacob C v Union of India & Ors., [WP(C).No.24031 OF 2020(D)].
The petitioner was carrying a foetus, 23 weeks and 4 days old which suffered from severe abnormalities such as Double outlet ventricle, conditions of pulmonary artesia and perimembraneous ventricular septal defect, etc. in light of these medical conditions highlighted, the petitioner prayed for the termination of her pregnancy as the termination of a pregnancy that exceeds 12 weeks requires permission from the court, under section 5 of the Act.
The court laid down several questions to be answered by the medical board set up for this specific case before it permitted the termination. The questions laid down by the court were on the following lines, firstly, “Whether the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical and mental health”. Secondly, “Whether there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped and if so, the nature of abnormalities”. And lastly, “Whether, having regard to the advanced stage of pregnancy, there is any danger (other than usual danger which arises even in spontaneous delivery at the end of full term) if the pregnant mother is permitted to terminate her pregnancy”.
The medical board after carrying out its diagnosis came to the conclusion that, “As per the USG findings the foetus is suffering from complex heart disease.(Double Outlet right ventricle with pulmonary atresia) which is usually associated with other systemic anomalies. The child if born is likely to suffer from serious physical & mental handicaps. MTP is recommended for Mrs. A. by the Medical Board based on above opinions”.
In light of the medical advice given by the board, the court permitted and mandated the pregnancy to be terminated at the earliest.