INDIA – Supreme Court allows abortion for 14-year-old rape survivor

The Supreme Court allowed the medical termination of the pregnancy of a 14-year-old rape survivor on 22 April, while noting that continuing the pregnancy may harm the physical and mental health of the minor. A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala, allowing the abortion although the girl was over 29 weeks pregnant, held that the urgency of the situation and her welfare minor necessitated the termination. “We will allow the medical termination since she is 14 years old and it is a rape case, and this is an exceptional case. Every passing hour is very crucial for her,” the bench said.

The order of the top court came after the recommendation of a medical team at Sion Hospital, Maharashtra, which said the continuation of the pregnancy would affect the physical and mental well-being of the minor. The top court took note of the doctors’ report that a “certain degree of risk” was attached to the medical termination of the pregnancy, but the threat to her life was not higher than delivery at full term. The bench also set aside the Bombay High Court order declining the plea seeking medical termination of her pregnancy.

The victim’s mother approached the top court, challenging the Bombay High Court order of 4 April 2024, which declined to grant a termination. The Supreme Court noted that the medical report relied upon by the High Court failed to evaluate the physical and mental status of the minor victim, specifically in light of the context of the alleged sexual assault.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, the upper limit for termination of pregnancy is 24 weeks for married women as well as for those in special categories, including rape survivors, and other vulnerable women, such as the differently abled and minors. 

SOURCE: Babushahi, by Agency First, 22 April 2024 + PHOTO: Supreme Court, by ANI.