The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has refused to permit a 15-year-old rape victim to abort her 28-week pregnancy as doctors have opined the baby would be born alive even if forcible delivery is performed at this stage.
The baby would require neonatal care, as per the doctors.
A division bench of Justices R V Ghuge and Y G Khobragade in its order of June 20 said if a child is going to be born even with forcible delivery, then they might as well let the baby be born full-term keeping its future in mind.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the rape victim’s mother seeking permission to abort the girl’s 28-week pregnancy.
The woman in the plea said her daughter went missing in February this year and was found with a man in Rajasthan three months later by police.
A case was lodged against the man under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
A medical board after examining the girl said even if the pregnancy termination proceedings are done, the baby would be born alive and would have to be admitted in a neonatal care unit and the girl would also be at risk.
The HC bench noted a child would be born whether by forcible medical intervention or by natural delivery.
If a forcible delivery is to be done, then an underdeveloped child would be born and there would be chances of certain deformities being developed, it said.
“If in any case the child is going to be born and the natural delivery is just 12 weeks away, we are of the view that the health of the child and its physical and mental development need to be considered,” the high court said.
“When a live child is going to be born even today, we might as well let the child be born after 12 weeks and under medical advice. If later the petitioner desires to give away the child to an orphanage, she shall have the liberty to do so,” it said.
The disadvantage of permitting forcible delivery of the child today is that the child who would have naturally developed into a well grown baby will have to be brought into this world at a premature stage and that too forcibly, the court said.
If the baby is well developed and delivered naturally as a full term baby, there would be no deformity and the chances of adoption would brighten, the HC said.
The girl’s mother then sought the court to permit the girl to be kept in some NGO or hospital till she delivers the child.
The court said the girl could be kept either at a shelter home in Nashik which cares for pregnant women or the government’s shelter home for women in Aurangabad.
After the baby is delivered, the girl will be at liberty to take a decision on whether to keep the baby or give the child up for adoption, the HC said.