High Court Allows Medical Termination of Pregnancy at 28 Weeks of a 16 Year Old Rape Victim

The High Court of Kerala on 11th February 2021, heard a Writ Petition before it concerning Medical Termination of Pregnancy for a 16 year old, who was the victim of an unfortunate rape. 

Background:

The victim’s mother approached the court on her behalf to seek termination, stating that the girl was 25 weeks pregnant and any continuation of her pregnancy would be traumatic to her. A separate criminal case was registered against the rape incident. A medical report was also attached which stated the gestational period to be 26 weeks and 6 days as of 3rd February 2021. It was also stated that the victim is not mentally prepared to carry out the pregnancy and there was high risk in the event of continuation of pregnancy as she had been subjected to a traumatic experience of sexual assault and rape. 

When the matter had come before the court on 10th February 2021, the court passed an interim order directing the Superintendent of the Government Medical College to constitute a medical board including a psychiatrist and furnish a medical report on the examination of the victim. 

Medical Report:

The report furnished the following:

  1. Neonatology consultation showed that there was high risk of poor neuro development of the fetus. 
  2. Pediatric Neurology Consultation determined that the mental and physical development of the fetus would be extremely poor. 
  3. Psychiatry consultation recomended termination due to mental trauma on the victim, the adverse psychological impact on her and the abnormalities in the fetus.
  4. Due to the pregnancy going beyond 20 weeks, abortion would have to be done by inducing labour. However, the uterus may not respond, due to which termination may have to be done surgically.
  5. The pregnancy was now 28 weeks and carried usual abortion risks. Further, in a slight chance of faliure of medical methods of termination, in such cases of abnormal pregnancies, hysterectomy may be needed. 
  6. There was a possibility of the child being born alive, in which case, the victim and her mother did not want resuscitation. 

Judgement:

Hon’ble Judge P. V. Asha considered the medical report as well as looked at past judgements and decided to allow the termination of pregnancy for the victim and ordered her to be present before the hospital immediately the same day, as waiting any longer will involve serious risks to the fetus and the victim alike.

It was ordered that a DNA sample be reserved for the pending criminal case. Further, in a case that the child be born alive, it was ordred that the doctors take necessary precautions to give a chance for healthy development of the child. 

Strict privacy was to be maintained in respect to the identity of the petitioner and the victim.

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