The Delhi High Court on Thursday allowed termination of 24-week pregnancy of a minor rape survivor after a medical board set up by the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital said there was a significant risk to the teenager in continuing with it.
The medical opinion of the hospital was placed before Justice Vibhu Bakhru, who discussed it in-chamber with the 16-year-old girl and her parents before delivering the order in the open court.
The judge told the doctor from RML, who was present in court, to ensure the procedure is carried out within 24 hours.
The doctor told the court that risk associated with the procedure, including surgery, has been explained to the survivor and it can be carried out within a few hours of receiving the order.
Taking note of the statement, the court said the “procedure be carried out as expeditiously as possible” and to “preserve the DNA” for use as evidence.
With the directions the court disposed of the petition filed on behalf of the girl through advocates Anwesh Madhukar and Prachi Nirwan.
The court on February 4 had ordered RML to set up a medical board to examine the condition of the 6-year-old girl and submit a report on whether continuing the pregnancy will pose any risk to her health.
The petition was filed as Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act does not permit termination of pregnancy in case the period of gestation is more than 20 weeks.
The petition had said that the pregnancy poses a substantial risk to the girl as she herself is of tender age.
The plea had said the rape survivor was examined by doctors at a government hospital in Delhi on January 25 and she was found to be 24 weeks pregnant.
A case of rape and criminal intimidation was then filed.
The doctor has opined that since the period of gestation is more than 20 weeks, it is beyond the permissible limit and court’s permission is required for pregnancy termination.
The Union Cabinet had last week approved extending the upper limit for permitting abortions from the present 20 weeks to 24 weeks for “special categories of women” which would include rape survivors, victims of incest, differently-abled and minors, an official statement said.
The Cabinet has given its nod to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.