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It's too late and risky to allow 10-year old rape survivor to abort 32-week fetus: SC

28 July, 2017 1:49 PM
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NEW DELHI: A 10-year old rape survivor, who is 32-week pregnant, will have carry pregnancy for the full term as the Supreme Court on Friday refused to grant her permission to abort the fetus saying that it was risky for the child to under medical termination at such advanced stage.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud relied on the medical report prepared by a medical board of PGI Chandigarh which recommended that the girl should be allowed to abort her pregnancy, arising out of rape.

The bench said that it was neither in the interest of the girl child nor for 32-week fetus to order abortion.

After a lower court refused to grant permission to a Chandigarh based 10-year old rape survivor to abort her 26-week fetus, the Supreme Court had decided to help out the girl and directed medical examination of the girl and her foetus at PGI.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, permits abortion till the foetus is 20 weeks old. Three have been cases where rape victims approached the court to abort their unwanted pregnancies arising out of rape and the apex court has allowed their plea to terminate fetus beyond legally permissible period. Many rape victims and women, who discover serious problem with their pregnancy after crossing 20 weeks period, have been moving the apex court seeking permission to undergo abortion.

Although the Centre had initiated the process to amend Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 way back in 2014 but it is still waiting for Cabinet approval before it could be introduced in Parliament. The proposed bill intends to extend the permissible period for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks if the pregnancy involves a substantial risk to the mother or the child. The amendment also allows to do away with the time limit for abortion in case substantial foetal abnormalities.

The court had earlier observed that the present law must be stretched to make it meaningful by allowing abortion beyond 20-weeks and SC in almost a dozen of cases allowed medical termination at advance stage beyond the legally permissible benchmark.

The apex court had in April last year allowed a 14-year-old rape survivor to abort her 24- weeks fetus. Allowing her to undergo abortion, the court had observed that the life of the girl, a class X student in Ahmedabad, would be ruined and she would have to live her rest of the life with the social stigma associated with the child.

The court, however, could not help a 35 year-old destitute HIV positive woman from Patna to abort her 26-week pregnancy, arising from a sexual assault, as AIIMS doctors had held that her life might be endanger if abortion was done at such advance stage. Despite the apex court's various ruling that welfare of a expecting mother is paramount, trials courts and High Courts have repeatedly turned down abortion plea of rape victims and women, having abnormal foetus, citing the present law.


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