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Delhi HC allows woman to terminate twin foetuses due to abnormalities

According to the petition, the petitioner who has completed 23 weeks and 2 days of her pregnancy, seeks permission for medical termination of her pregnancy under Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

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The Delhi High Court has granted permission to a woman to terminate her pregnancy before 24 weeks as her twin foetuses are suffering from posterior fossa abnormalities. The said condition termed as Dandy-Walker Malformation (as opined by the doctor of Apollo Centre for Fetal Medicine and AIIMS) and the twin children, if born, are likely to suffer from serious physical handicaps and mental abnormalities. 

A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli said, “I am of the considered view that the petition deserves to be allowed and the petitioner ought to be granted permission to undergo the procedure of medical termination of her pregnancy immediately so that the pregnancy can be terminated before a period of 24 weeks. As prayed for, the petitioner is permitted to undergo the procedure of medical termination at the hospital of her choice i.e., Thakral Fertility Centre, where she had undergone IVF. The team at the said Hospital shall be given a copy of the AIIMS Medical Board’s opinion and shall carry out the procedure without any delay.”

According to the petition, the petitioner who has completed 23 weeks and 2 days of her pregnancy, seeks permission for medical termination of her pregnancy under Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

The court was informed that the twin foetus of the petitioner is suffering from posterior fossa abnormalities i.e. Dandy-Walker Malformation (as opined by the Doctors of Apollo Centre for Fetal Medicine and AIIMS) and the twin children, if born, are likely to suffer from serious physical handicaps and mental abnormalities.

According to the previous order of this court, AIIMS was directed to constitute a Medical Board at the earliest and submit its report regarding the feasibility of termination of the petitioner’s pregnancy.

The court also discussed that when pregnancies can be terminated by medical practitioners as stated in MTP (Amendment) Act, 2021-

(2) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (4), a pregnancy may be terminated by a registered medical practitioner,—

(a) Where the length of the pregnancy does not exceed twenty weeks, if such medical practitioner is,

(b) where the length of the pregnancy exceeds twenty weeks but does not exceed twenty-four weeks in case of such category of woman as may be prescribed by rules made under this Act, if not less than two registered medical practitioners are, of the opinion, formed in good faith, that—

(i) The continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or

(ii) There is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality

Pursuant to the order, AIIMS had expeditiously constituted a board of eight members headed by Dr. Madhulika Kabra, Professor, and Department of Paediatrics along with doctors from Dept. of Neurosurgery Gynae and Department of Radio-diagnosis submitted the report in which the observations says-

I. A possibility of Vermian Hypoplasmia can be considered in both twins.

II. In case of isolated Vermian Hypoplasmia, in the absence of other CNS findings and other abnormalities, neurodevelopmental outcome may be normal in 70-90%, while others may have variable degrees of unfavourable long term developmental outcomes.

III. In case the couple decides to undergo MTP, the procedure is reasonably safe at this gestation for mother.

The Court appreciated the proactive stand taken by the Medical Board and Satvik Verma, Senior Advocate, for rendering their timely assistance.

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