A 26-year-old rape survivor has moved the Supreme Court, seeking permission to terminate her 24-week pregnancy because the law does not allow her to do so.
The woman has challenged the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP) that puts a ceiling on abortion, even if there is a fatal risk to the mother and foetus.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves mentioned the petition before a bench of justice AR Dave and justice LN Rao who fixed the matter for a hearing on Thursday.
The court accepted the plea for urgent listing after Gonsalves said the petitioner’s life was in grave danger.
The petitioner, who alleged her ex-fiancé raped her on the false promise of marriage, said the ceiling on abortion was unconstitutional and violated a woman’s right to live. She called it unreasonable, arbitrary, harsh and discriminatory.
The petitioner is in her 24th week of pregnancy. She belongs to a poor background and her physical and mental health has been put to risk due to the 20-week limit.
Her foetus suffers from anencephaly (a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull) but the doctors have refused to abort it since it will be illegal.
Cases where girls are survivors of sexual violence should be exempted from the law, she said.
To provide assistance to such victims, the petitioner suggested the court to direct hospitals to set up an expert panel of doctors who can assess the pregnancy and then offer medical termination.
“The denial of her right to an abortion has caused Ms X extreme anguish and has forced her to continue her pregnancy, while being aware that the foetus would never survive,” said the petitioner.
According to medical opinion, the foetus has abnormalities and will cause mental distress to the mother.