New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday made strong observations while hearing the Centre’s petition seeking revocation of its October 9 order that allowed a married woman to terminate her 26-week pregnancy. “We cannot kill a child,” the SC bench, headed by CJI DY Chandrachud, said.
The court, however, told the Centre that it has to balance the rights of the “living and viable foetus” with the mother’s right of decisional autonomy. The court also asked the Centre and the woman’s lawyer to talk to the woman about retaining the pregnancy for a few weeks.
The case was referred to the CJI-led bench after a two-judge bench on Wednesday gave a split verdict on the Centre’s petition for recall of its October 9 order, wherein it granted permission to the woman — married and mother of two children — to abort her 26-week pregnancy.
The court had allowed the woman to medically terminate her pregnancy on the ground that she was suffering from depression and couldn’t support a third child “emotionally, financially and mentally”.
In a strong remark, the court asked the 27-year-old woman’s lawyer, “Do you want us to tell the doctors at AIIMS to stop the fetal heart?”
Responding to the counsel’s “no”, the bench asked the lawyer if the woman could retain the foetus for some more weeks.
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The court gave the woman 24 hours to decide while making it clear it wasn’t in favour of killing the child.
The court also said that the option of terminating the foetus can be exercised in cases of forced pregnancy or a minor who is unable to understand the consequences of giving birth to a child.
(With inputs from PTI)