Supreme Court: A 24-week pregnant teen can abort if doctors permit

The minor became pregnant after being allegedly raped by her doctor Jatin Bhai K Mehta when she had visited him after suffering from typhoid in February.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: July 30, 2015 10:40 pm
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The Supreme Court Tuesday opened a window of hope for a 14-year-old rape victim, who sought its permission for termination of her pregnancy after 24 weeks. Currently, the law allows abortion only up to 20 weeks.

Issuing a “flexible” order, the court left it for a team of doctors and a psychologist to take a call on whether termination of pregnancy was in the interest of the girl’s life. The court said if they found that to be the case, she could go ahead with the abortion.

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“We have the interest of the girl in our mind. But we also know there is a life inside her. We want to do something for her and that is why we are contemplating a way out. There is a reason why we have included a clinical psychologist in the panel. The girl’s mental health will also be considered,” said a bench of Justices Anil R Dave and Kurian Joseph.

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It added that a doctor, who opined on July 25 that the pregnancy can cause severe medical complications for the girl, will also be included in the panel of medical experts, besides three senior gynecologists of the civil hospital in Ahmedabad.

Advocate Kamini Jaiswal, who argued the petition moved by the girl’s father, said the teenager would go to the hospital on Wednesday for the medical check-up since her “trauma” has been increasing with each passing day.

Last week, the Gujarat High Court had turned down a petition by the girl’s father, citing the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

The Class X student was allegedly raped by a doctor whom she had gone to see while she was suffering from typhoid. The doctor allegedly gave sedatives to the girl and warned her not to tell her parents.

The family got to know about the pregnancy when she complained of a severe stomach ache and was taken to a doctor.

Referring to the law, the Supreme Court bench said it cannot issue an order allowing her to terminate the pregnancy since that would be in breach of the Act. “We understand her life has been ruined and there will be social stigma. We can acknowledge her pain and agony and we want to help her. But we cannot do it in violation of the law,” it said.

The bench also took note of the fact that the foetus has a life now and questioned if “killing the child will solve everything”. It also asked Jaiswal if the girl should give birth to the child, who can be given up for adoption. But the counsel said a 14-year-old girl cannot be asked to bear a child and such a situation will not only lead to immense physical and mental agony, but may also compel her to take an “extreme step”.