• The Bombay High Court Friday permitted a 14-year-old rape victim afflicted with cancer to medically terminate her pregnancy which is now in the 24th week.
• A bench of Justices A S Oka and M S Sonak told the girl to visit the J J Hospital at 11.00 am Saturday and directed the dean of the hospital to ensure that medical termination of the pregnancy was performed by expert doctors expeditiously.
• The girl’s parents had approached high court Wednesday seeking permission for the medical termination of pregnancy.
Important highlight of this judgment
• According to the plea, the girl, who is now in the 24th week of her pregnancy, was raped earlier this year and an FIR was registered in the case.
• However, her pregnancy, resulting from the rape, was detected only recently when she went to a local hospital for her chemotherapy session.
• She has been suffering from blood cancer since 2010, her lawyer Kuldeep Nikam told the court.
• The girl’s father is a daily wage labourer and her mother works as a domestic help.
• The bench had earlier directed the dean of the J J Hospital to constitute a panel of expert doctors, including a psychiatrist, to assess the girl’s health condition and to suggest whether medical termination of the pregnancy at such a late stage can be permitted.
Significance of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act
• The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act permits abortions after consultation with one doctor for up to 12 weeks.
• Between 12 and 20 weeks, the medical opinion of two doctors is required in such cases where the foetus has abnormalities.
• In which the pregnant woman faces risks to her physical or mental well-being due to continuing with the pregnancy.
• Beyond the 20-week limit, exceptions are legally permissible only if continuation of the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the unborn child or the mother.
• The bench also suggested that the girl’s parents approach the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority to seek legal and financial assistance for the girl’s education and well-being in the future.
• Justice Oka said that in the past,in a similar case, the MSLSA and some members of the bar had helped sponsor the education of a minor rape victim.
• Advocate Nikam informed the bench that while the girl used to go to school earlier, she had discontinued her studies following the rape incident.
Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability
Prelims level: Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act
Mains level: Not so important