Telangana HC allows 16YO rape victim to terminate pregnancy

Dignity, self-respect, and healthy living are facets of the right to life and personal liberty enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which also include the right of a woman to make a choice of pregnancy and terminate the pregnancy, subject to reasonable restrictions under the law.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  8 Oct 2021 2:46 AM GMT
Telangana HC allows 16YO rape victim to terminate pregnancy

Hyderabad: Telangana High Court has directed the Superintendent of Government Maternity Hospital, Koti, to terminate the pregnancy of a 16-year-old rape victim.

Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy of Telangana High Court said the pregnancy should be terminated either medically or through surgical procedure after taking due precautions.

Justice Reddy said the procedure should be performed by the senior-most gynecologist of the hospital. The court asked the hospital to collect tissue and blood samples of the fetus for DNA and other tests.

The minor was impregnated by a member of her extended family and had filed a petition in High Court, through her mother, seeking a direction to terminate her pregnancy medically, as per the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

The accused emotionally abused and sexually exploited the minor. Fearing for her life, the hapless minor did not reveal the sexual assault to her parents. He even threatened to kill her mother. The family later mustered courage and latter eventually approached the police who arrested the accused.

Subsequently, when she was unwell, she was taken for a medical check-up where she was found to be pregnant. When her parents enquired, the girl told them that the accused had threatened to kill her mother.

Doctors at a private hospital said the gestational age of the fetus was 25 weeks based on fetal biometry. The minor and her parents approached a government hospital in Hyderabad for the termination of the pregnancy as the minor was not in a position to bear the child physically, mentally, and financially.

The hospital authorities, however, rejected their request as termination of pregnancy beyond 24 weeks was not permissible by the Act. The minor, through her mother, knocked on the doors of the HC by filing a writ petition seeking direction from the hospital to terminate her pregnancy.

A medical board, which examined the minor following the court instructions, said the minor was fit for termination of pregnancy. It noted that, however, she may have complications endangering her life if the pregnancy was terminated.

Telangana High Court made it clear that compelling a rape victim or sexually abused woman to continue with the pregnancy on grounds that the gestation of the fetus had completed 24 weeks is tantamount to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The court opined that the life of the fetus cannot be ranked higher than the life of the petitioner. Dignity, self-respect, and healthy living are facets of the right to life and personal liberty enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which also include the right of a woman to make a choice of pregnancy and terminate the pregnancy, subject to reasonable restrictions under the law.

"If the petitioner was compelled to continue with pregnancy caused by rape, it would infringe her right to life guaranteed by the Constitution," the judge said in his order.

Next Story
Share it