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'Infringement Of Right To Life Of Rape Victim Outweighs Right To Life Of Child In Womb': Telangana HC Permits Minor Rape Victim To Abort 26 Week Old Foetus

Aaratrika Bhaumik
20 Oct 2021 4:09 AM GMT
Infringement Of Right To Life Of Rape Victim Outweighs Right To Life Of Child In Womb:  Telangana HC Permits Minor Rape Victim To Abort 26 Week Old Foetus
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The Telangana High Court has recently permitted a minor rape victim to terminate her 26 week old pregnancy by observing that the life of the foetus or the unborn born child cannot be placed at a higher pedestal than that of the life of the mother. Justice B Vijaysen Reddy observed, "The dignity, self-respect, healthy living (mental or physical) etc. are facets of right to life and...

The Telangana High Court has recently permitted a minor rape victim to terminate her 26 week old pregnancy by observing that the life of the foetus or the unborn born child cannot be placed at a higher pedestal than that of the life of the mother.

Justice B Vijaysen Reddy observed,

"The dignity, self-respect, healthy living (mental or physical) etc. are facets of right to life and personal liberty enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which also include right of a woman to make a choice of pregnancy and terminate pregnancy, in case, where pregnancy is caused by rape or sexual abuse or for that matter unplanned pregnancy, subject to reasonable restrictions under law"

Background

The Court was adjudicating upon a petition moved by a 16-year-old minor victim through her parents seeking permission for medical termination of pregnancy as per the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 (MTP Act) as amended in 2021. Medical evaluation conducted had concluded that the victim had been subjected to rape and was 26-27 weeks pregnant.

Advocate Sravya Katta, appearing for the victim argued that a woman's right to make reproductive choice is a facet of personal liberty as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. She had further submitted that a woman has self-rule over her body and that it is crucial to recognised that reproductive choice can be exercised to procreate as well as to abstain from procreating. It was also contended that it is inhuman to subject a woman, who is over 24 weeks pregnant, to legal deferrals as infringement of right to life of a rape victim outweighs the right to life of the child in the womb.

Observations

The Court noted that if the minor victim is not allowed an abortion than there exists every possibility of her undergoing severe physical and mental stress, which may have adverse effect on her future health and prospects.

"The petitioner is 16 years old, and with the mental stress she is undergoing, it cannot be said with certainty that the petitioner would be able to carry the pregnancy until the child and that too a healthy child is delivered. There may be medical complications encountered by the petitioner and also to the foetus or to be born child", the Court further opined.

The parents of the petitioner had also apprised the Court that she is not in a position to continue the pregnancy and that there is a threat to her life on account of the severe physical and mental stress that she is being subjected to on a daily basis.

The Court also took into consideration the report of the Medical Board which had stipulated that the petitioner is fit for termination of pregnancy but there may arise some medical complications such as bleeding and the petitioner may be subjected to surgical procedure, which requires anesthesia.

It was further observed that although there exists restriction under the MTP (Amendment) Act 2021 for terminating pregnancy older than 24 weeks, it is settled law that the Constitutional Courts are empowered to direct termination of pregnancy even if the foetus is more than 24 weeks old.

"If the petitioner is compelled to continue with pregnancy caused by rape, it would infringe her right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. A woman has right to make a choice to carry pregnancy, at the same time, it is her right not to carry pregnancy, however, subject to conditions and restrictions enumerated under the provisions of the Act of 2021", the Court further remarked.

Accordingly, the Court directed the concerned hospital to take all appropriate precautions and medically terminate the pregnancy of the minor victim.

Click Here To Read/Download Order 


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