Kerala high court allows minor rape survivor to medically terminate pregnancy
The Kerala High Court on Wednesday allowed another minor rape survivor to medically terminate her pregnancy, which was a result of a sexual assault on her, a the third such order passed by the court in the last week. The latest victim was 16 weeks pregnant.
The survivors of the earlier two cases were more than 26 weeks pregnant, and the court constituted a medical board following which, termination was allowed on recommendation. In March 2021, an amendment was made by the Parliament to the Medical Termination Pregnancy Act (MTP) of 1971, to increase the permissible termination period from 20 to 24 weeks, exceeding which, the high court can pass a special order in exceptional cases.
In the latest case, the parents of the 16-year-old survivor moved the court after two private hospitals refused to terminate her pregnancy since a case was registered against the perpetrator of the crime. But a government lawyer, whose opinion was sought by the court, said in this particular case the permission of the court was not required under the MTP Act since it was under the permissible period of termination.
The survivor’s counsel also contended in the high court that delivery at this age would be detrimental to the physical and mental health of the survivor. The court later directed her parents to approach a government hospital with a copy of the amended act and the court order to terminate her pregnancy.It later disposed of the father’s petition.
During the hearing of a POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act case about two months back, the court had expressed concern over the growing number of sexual assault cases against minors. In the last year, the court permitted 12 minor survivors who were sexually assaulted, to medically terminate their pregnancy. In six cases, the offenders were relatives of the survivors.