Rape Victim Should Not Be Made To Approach Courts For Terminating Pregnancy Of Less Than 20 Weeks: Madras HC Issues Guidelines [Read Order]
"The doctors and the Courts need to be more sensitive and should act fast since the victim girl is carrying a foetus, which keeps reminding her of the agony faced by her due to rape and every moment she suffers mental agony and depression due to the unwanted pregnancy that has been forced against her.”
The Madras High Court has issued guidelines for termination of unwanted pregnancy of victim in sexual assault cases.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh was considering a plea of a rape victim girl who wanted to medically terminate the pregnancy. The court noted that, in this case, she was made to move from one hospital after another, although the first hospital could have conducted the termination of pregnancy without referring her to the Medical Board.
The court, referring to the provisions of the Act, said that the permanent Medical Board need to examine medical termination of pregnancy cases where the term of pregnancy is beyond 20 weeks of gestation. In this case, the term of pregnancy was less than 20 weeks. The court said:
"The doctors and the Courts need to be more sensitive and should act fast since the victim girl is carrying a foetus, which keeps reminding her of the agony faced by her due to rape and every moment she suffers mental agony and depression due to the unwanted pregnancy that has been forced against her."
The girl's lawyer submitted before the Court that some guidelines should be issued, to effectively handle the termination of pregnancy where the pregnancy does not exceed 20 weeks, without making the victim girl initiate proceedings before this Court for that purpose.
The court then issued the following directions:
- In all cases, where a victim girl suffers an unwanted pregnancy and where the length of pregnancy does not exceed 20 weeks, the victim girl need not be referred to the Medical Board and the termination of pregnancy can be done as per the provisions of Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The victim girl should not be unnecessarily made to knock the doors of this Court.
- Even in cases where the length of pregnancy has exceeded 20 weeks, the pregnancy can be terminated in accordance with Section 5(1) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, immediately to save the life of the pregnant woman and the medical practitioner forms such an opinion in good faith. In such cases the length of pregnancy will have no relevance and what will be relevant is only the life of the pregnant woman.
- In all other cases where the length of pregnancy exceeds 20 weeks, the victim may approach the High Court seeking for termination of pregnancy and at which point of time, the High Court will refer the matter to the permanent Medical Board constituted by the Government of Tamil Nadu and which shall examine such cases and will ensure urgent/immediate action and submit its report to the Court, based on it the Court can take a decision.
- In all cases involving termination of pregnancy where a criminal case is pending, samples will be taken for DNA test of both mother and the conceptus (foetus and placenta) and it shall be sent to the Forensic Laboratory through the concerned Police and a report shall also be received from the Forensic Laboratory