1The Supreme Court allowed a 22-year-old woman from Mumbai on Monday to abort her 24-week abnormal foetus. The law does not allow abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The apex court had on January 11 ordered KEM Hospital to examine the petitioner whose advocate said the woman should be allowed to abort the foetus that was diagnosed with anencephaly. Anencephaly is a congenital defect, with the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull and scalp.

On Monday, the SC said the woman has the right to preserve her life.

The woman learnt about the deformed foetus in December last year. Her request for an abortion on December 20 was denied by doctors in Mumbai on the grounds that her pregnancy had crossed 20 weeks.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, any person or doctor breaching the provisions can invite imprisonment up to seven years if an abortion is carried beyond the 20 weeks’ ceiling. However, there is an exception if there is threat to the mother’s life.

Doctors are still wary of taking any independent decision on the issue, forcing many women and families to approach courts.

In the petition, the woman called the ceiling unreasonable because determination of foetal abnormality in many cases can only be done after the 20th week.

“The ceiling of 20 weeks is therefore arbitrary, harsh and discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 (Right to Equality) and 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution,” the petitioner said.