The Supreme Court on Thursday hauled up Patna Medical College Hospital for delaying the termination of pregnancy of an HIV-positive rape victim who was also “mildly mentally retarded”, saying there was no need to wait for consent of a guardian when she had given her consent.
The bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar asked Bihar government to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to the 35-year-old destitute woman. “The fundamental concept relating to bodily integrity, personal autonomy and sovereignty over her body has to be given requisite respect while taking the decision, and the concept of consent by a guardian in the case of major should not be over-emphasised,” the court said.
The woman was living on the streets of Patna when she was raped. She was brought to a shelter home on January 25, 2017, where she was found to be pregnant. She was taken to Patna Medical College on February 8 where she was diagnosed to be 13 weeks and 6 days’ pregnant. She expressed the desire to end the pregnancy, saying she was raped and was taken to the hospital for this on March 14. Though her father and brother signed a consent form, the hospital did not proceed with the procedure.
As the termination was not done in 20 weeks, she approached Patna High Court where it got caught in technicalities. The high court rejected her demand as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act disallows abortion of a foetus that is more than 20 weeks old, except in cases where it posed a risk to the life of the mother. The woman approached the Supreme Court in May.