Medical board to examine rape victim's plea for abortion

Medical board to examine rape victim's plea for abortion

Medical board to examine rape victim's plea for abortion
The Supreme court on Friday directed for constituting a medical board to examine the condition of a rape victim who wanted termination of her 24-week pregnancy.

The victim had claimed that the doctors had refused to abort her foetus which suffered from anencephaly (a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull). The condition posed fatal risk to her and the foetus, she had said.

Observing that any delay in the matter would be harmful, a bench of Justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra directed the woman petitioner to appear before the medical board of the Mumbai's KEM Hospital at 10 am on Saturday for her examination.

The court accepted the submission by a Maharashtra government's counsel that her condition would be examined by the board. It directed for placing the report of the medical board on Monday (July 25) for further consideration.

Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Union government, agreed for setting up such a board at AIIMS here but his proposal was not considered as senior advocate Colin Gonsalves submitted that the petitioner was in Mumbai.

The court also said it would examine separately the petition challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 3(2)(b) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, which put a bar on abortion of foetus of 20-week old or more. The government has also proposed to amend the Act.

The woman-petitioner claimed a ceiling of 20 weeks for an abortion put under the law was ultra vires to Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The woman, who alleged that she was raped by her ex-fiance on the false promise of marriage, described the bar in the law as unreasonable, arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violative of the right to life and equality.

She had sought direction to the Centre for setting up an expert panel of doctors in hospitals to assess the pregnancy and offer medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) at least to those women and girls who were survivors of sexual violence and have passed the period of 20 weeks.