In a rare legal intervention, the Gujarat high court has allowed a rape victim to terminate her pregnancy.
The 18-year-old Dalit girl had approached the court last month seeking permission to end her 16-week pregnancy.
The girl, from Deodar taluka in Banaskantha, was abducted from her village on September 28 last year. Amratji Agraji Thakore allegedly held her captive for more than two months and raped her repeatedly.
She was rescued in December. A medical examination revealed that she was pregnant. The accused remains at large.
"Keeping in mind the best interests of the girl and her parents, and likely consequences and innumerable mental, physical, social and economical problems in future if pregnancy is not allowed to be terminated and resulted into birth of a child, this court has come to the conclusion that the case falls within the parameters of Sections 3 and 4 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act," justice Anant S Dave said in his order.
"There is no bar for termination of pregnancy in case of a rape victim," the judge observed.
He also directed health authorities of the Ahmedabad civil hospital to set up a panel of doctors to conduct the abortion.
However, if the panel believes that termination of pregnancy would affect the life and safety of the victim, it may reconsider the decision, the court added.
Under the MTP Act, an advanced staged pregnancy cannot be terminated if doctors believe the woman's physical or mental health is in danger.
The high court also ordered that after the abortion, the foetus should be preserved for DNA testing, as it could be a useful evidence for the investigation of the rape case.