HC allows rape victim to medically terminate pregnancy

In her petition, filed through her mother, the victim claimed that she cannot be forced to carry the burden of crime
Last Updated : 25 November 2021, 22:55 IST

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The High Court of Karnataka has allowed a 16-year-old rape victim to medically terminate her pregnancy. Justice N S Sanjay Gowda said that in cases of rape on minor girls, the statutory limitations under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, are applicable only to medical practitioners while constitutional courts have to consider such cases in an altogether different light.

The crime had happened in February 2021 and a case was registered by the Sadalaga police station under various provisions of IPC and Pocso Act. The case was registered against two accused persons who incidentally are a father and son duo. On the request by the victim and the Child Welfare Committee, the district health surgeon was of the view that the pregnancy could not be terminated as the outer limit of 24 weeks set down in Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, had passed.

In her petition, filed through her mother, the victim claimed that she cannot be forced to carry the burden of crime and cannot be compelled to deliver a baby which has been conceived against her will. She requested the court to exercise its constitutional power under Article 226 of the Constitution.

The court said that the act of forcing a woman to bear an unwanted intrusion on her body and endure the consequences of that intrusion would be a clear transgression of her inviolable fundamental right of "personal liberty" guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

"It should also be kept in mind that a minor who has been raped and has become pregnant due to it, will be forced not only to be a victim of the crime but would also be compelled to bear with the burden of the crime inflicted on her by forcing her to deliver a child, the conception of which, was not due to the exercise of her reproductive choice. In fact, the fate of the child if delivered may also be perilous and detrimental to its own interest given the social stigma that would hover around it," the court said.

The court had also constituted a medical board comprising experts to subject the petitioner to a medical examination. The board said though the length of the pregnancy would be beyond the period of 24 weeks by one week three days, it placed an opinion that the pregnancy needs to be terminated in the interest of the physical and mental health of the petitioner.

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Published 25 November 2021, 19:24 IST

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