Judicial intervention didn’t lead officials to act promptly on a request to terminate a teenager’s pregnancy, prolonging the trauma of the girl who says she is a victim of sexual exploitation.
The 14-year-old native of northwest Uttar Pradesh, who is carrying an eight-month-old foetus, is expecting the result of a medical assessment she underwent on Thursday--more than a week after Allahabad High Court directed the health administration to check if the girl was fit for an abortion.
It took six days for Bareilly’s Chief Medical Officer to sanction the examination of the girl, who, along with her family, had approached the authority last Saturday following a high court directive. The court, on August 29, asked the girl’s father to move an application before the CMO for an “appropriate decision” on the pregnancy.
The law disallows abortion in cases of pregnancy of more than 20 weeks, even as the Supreme Court is hearing a litigation challenging the clause.
The teenager’s family had first moved—on August 17—an application for termination of pregnancy, but it was rejected. The girl’s father then moved the HC, which asked him to seek the Bareilly CMO’s opinion.
But, the officer, Vijay Yadav, seemed in no hurry to follow up, going by the complainant’s statements.
“When I approached him last weekend (September 3) with the court’s order, the CMO declined to take any action regarding it,” said VP Dhyani, the counsel for the girl. “We had to approach the district magistrate on Monday to secure an order for pregnancy termination.”
After allowing three initial days (from Saturday) to lapse, the CMO called the girl, along with her father, for medical review on Tuesday. “He did not meet the girl at Bareilly District hospital, a kilometre away from his office. Neither did he ask doctors to start the tests,” said the girls’ father. “We waited for over three hours at the CMO’s office; he didn’t turn up.”
The family was then asked to visit the CMO on Thursday.
Sources in the CMO said the officer was “too busy in other official work” on Tuesday, and declined to comment on why the medical review was not fixed for the next day.
On Thursday, CMO asked a team of gynecologists to perform medical tests.
The girl became pregnant after being “repeatedly raped” by a man in her village on alleged pretext of marriage. The accused abandoned her once she conceived and he is now in judicial custody along with his brothers.