The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied permission to a woman who wanted to abort her 26 week-old foetus on the ground that it suffered from ‘Down syndrome’.

In the ruling, the apex court further said that abortion of a 20-plus week foetus can be permitted only when there is a danger to the life of the mother or the foetus. The court further said, “It is sad that the child may suffer from physical and mental challenges and it’s unfortunate for the mother but we can’t allow an abortion…We have a life in our hands.”

The judgement came in following a report of the medical board which was constituted to examine the 37-year-old woman. The report suggested that there was no physical risk to mother in continuing pregnancy.

The bench of judges headed by Justices SA Bobde and LN Rao said, “Everybody knows that children with Down syndrome are undoubtedly less intelligent, but they are fine people.”

Taking the medical reports into consideration, the bench said, “With this report, we don’t think we are going to allow termination of pregnancy. We have a life in our hands.”

“In these circumstances, as per the present advise, it is not possible to grant permission to terminate the pregnancy”, the bench added.

Earlier in February, the court had granted permission to a 22-year-old woman to terminate her 24-week pregnancy on the ground that it would endanger mother’s life.