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Minor Rape Survivor Allowed To Abort

The Supreme Court has allowed a 14-year-old rape survivor to terminate her 30-week pregnancy, overturning an order by the Bombay High Court. The court called it an “exceptional case” and allowed the abortion on the basis of a hospital report.

Indian law requires the court’s permission to undergo abortion beyond 24 weeks of pregnancy.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said that while undergoing abortion at this stage involves some risk, medical experts in this case have opined that the threat to life is not higher than the risk of full-term delivery.

“We will allow the medical termination since she is 14 and it is a rape case and this is an exceptional case,” the CJI said.

The teenager’s mother had appealed in the Supreme Court after the Bombay High Court refused to allow her abortion on April 4.

A top court bench, comprising the CJI and Justice JB Pardiwala, held an urgent hearing last Friday in this matter. Stating that the medical report that the high court relied upon regarding the sexual assault failed to assess the physical and mental condition of the teenager, it ordered a fresh check-up at a Maharashtra hospital.

The medical board at a Sion hospital opined in favour of the abortion. Based on it, the court allowed the abortion by invoking Article 142 of the Constitution, which empowers it to pass an order needed to ensure justice in any case pending before it.

“The medical board at Sion has opined that continuation of pregnancy against will of minor may impact negatively on the physical and mental well-being of the minor, while some risk is involved, the medical board opined that threat to life is not higher than the risk of full-term delivery,” said the Chief Justice.

Passing the order, the court noted that the teenager was unaware of her pregnancy till a very late stage. The court was also informed that a rape case had been filed in this matter along with charges under the stringent POCSO law.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 2021 permits medical termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks with the opinion of a registered medical practitioner, and up to 24 weeks in some cases. In cases beyond that upper limit, one has to approach the court.

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