HC allows minor rape victim to terminate 22-week pregnancy

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has allowed termination of a 22-week pregnancy of a minor rape victim following the report of a medical board, set up by Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, that its continuation would result in psychological complications.

The high court clarified however that this will be subject to reports of further blood tests, required to assess if there is any additional risk to the girl.

The pregnancy termination procedure would be carried out only if the parameters of the girl do not indicate any added risk, it said.

"This court considers it apposite to allow the present petition and direct that the petitioner (girl) be admitted to Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and the necessary procedures be carried out for termination of the pregnancy," Justice Vibhu Bakhru said.

Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act does not permit the procedure if the gestation period is more than 20 weeks.

The court passed the order on a plea by the 16-year-old girl, who was a victim of rape and in advanced stage of pregnancy which could not be terminated by the concerned doctors.

The girl approached the high court seeking direction to the Delhi government and a hospital here to terminate her pregnancy.

Justice Bakhru interacted with the girl and her father through video conferencing and noted that the minor was under considerable distress and her father too was insistent that the pregnancy be terminated.

The court said the risks of terminating the pregnancy have been explained to the girl and her father.

While hearing the matter, the court had directed the Medical Superintendent of RML Hospital to constitute a medical board to examine the girl and report whether termination of pregnancy involves risk to her and to also evaluate the risk of continuing with the foetus.

The doctors, who joined the virtual hearing, told the court that the girl was in considerable distress and the clinical psychologist had also reported that continuation of pregnancy would result in psychological complications.

The report of the medical board indicated that the pregnancy was of 22 gestational weeks.

"In view of the report and psychological assessment of the petitioner (girl), it does appear that she is at considerable risk of psychological complications if the pregnancy is continued. The concerned doctors have explained that there may be some risks in terminating the pregnancy but the same are not higher than what is acceptable and expected at this stage," the court said.

It also recorded its appreciation for the concerned doctors of RML Hospital for promptly constituting the medical board and examining the minor.

In January this year, the union cabinet had approved the Medical Termination Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which provides for enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women including survivors of rape, victim of incest and other vulnerable women, like the handicapped and minors.

 

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PTI