Petition filed for extension of abortion period to 28 weeks

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In a move that is likely to spark off another controversy in the ever-going pro vs. anti abortion groups, a Mumbai doctor and two others have approached the Supreme Court seeking an extension of the abortion period to 28 weeks from current 20 weeks.

The petitioners include Dr. Nikhil Datar who stood by his patient Niketa Mehta in her legal battle for being allowed to abort her 24-week old foetus after it had been detected to have a cardiac defect.

They filed the petition with the help of an NGO called the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). The petitioners argue that the provisions in the existing Act violate a woman’s rights to physical integrity. Also, they mentioned how the 20-week limit can sometimes lead to severe foetal abnormalities.

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Based on the input of experts on the matter, it is argued that due to the rapid advancement of technology, abortion at any stage poses no threat for the woman undergoing it. The petition also cited the opinion of an expert committee that ruled how the extension sought had no way to cause any physical or mental harm.

“We generally ask a patient to undergo tests around the 18th week to find abnormalities. Some reports take three weeks and we lose on the MTP cut-off time. A little extension will come as a boon to a lot of women,” said Dr Rishma Dhillon-Pai, consultant gynaecologist at Jaslok Hospital, as reported by the DNA.

“It is true that some anomalies are picked only at a later stage of pregnancy but don’t know whether raising MTP to the 28th week will be a good decision. Given the female feticide issue, MTP should be allowed in certain conditions,” Dr Ashwini Bhalerao, another renowned gynecologist argued.