15-year-old rape victim’s abortion not advisable: Medical board to court
A year after a Chandigarh court and the Supreme Court (SC) rejected a 10-year-old girl’s abortion plea after doctors termed it “too risky,” another medical board has advised against a similar plea of a 15-year-old rape survivor. She is reported to be six months pregnant.
Commenting on the board’s report, submitted before the juvenile court in Sector 25 on Monday, sources who did not want to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media, said the doctors had said an abortion at this stage could lead to serious health issues. It wasn’t legally permissible for the 15-year-old to abort, sources said.
A final order on the case, however, is yet to be pronounced by the juvenile court.
The board, comprising doctors and other experts, was set up on the juvenile court’s directions and the head of the gynaecology department, Government Multispeciality Hospital, Sector 16, submitted the report today.
The mother of the rape victim had approached the district court last Tuesday seeking permission to abort the foetus.
The victim’s 17-year-old boyfriend was arrested on August 9 for allegedly raping and impregnating the minor. He is facing charges of rape under the Indian Penal Code, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The pregnancy was revealed after the teenager’s mother questioned her about her delayed menstruation was told that she had been raped by her boyfriend. Doctors at a local hospital later confirmed she was six months pregnant. As she was a minor the police were informed and the boy was arrested.
Medical board a must
In a similar case the Chandigarh court and later the SC last year did not give the go-ahead to the abortion plea of a 10-year-old who was allegedly raped by her maternal uncles. Advice of the medical board was sought before the apex court rejected the plea.
Following this, the SC had issued instructions to all states and union territories to set up a permanent medical board to take quick decisions in similar cases. Such a panel was necessary because several cases seeking approval for abortion had come up before the apex court and precious time was being lost in setting up a medical board to review the cases, the court order said.
The case had grabbed international headlines and the matter was taken up by a special court through a fast track trial. A baby girl delivered by the 10-year-old in August last year was adopted by a family in Maharashtra.
What the law entails
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 bars abortion if the foetus has grown beyond 20 weeks. An exception to the law is made if a registered medical practitioner certifies to a court that the continued pregnancy is life-threatening for either the mother or the baby.