Punjab and Haryana High Court refuses abortion of 12 year old rape victim on Medical Board’s report negating “imminent danger” if pregnancy is continued

Punjab and Haryana High Court refuses abortion of 12 year old rape victim on Medical Board’s report negating “imminent danger” if pregnancy is continued

Justice A.G. Masih of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a judgment delivered on March 31, refused to order termination of pregnancy of a 12 year old rape victim, after a Medical Board comprising of eminent doctors concluded that there was “no imminent danger to the life of the victim if the pregnancy is continued.”

The daughter of the petitioner was a rape victim and had subsequently become pregnant, with pregnancy of 28 to 30 weeks. She was only 12 years old and a student of class 7th. Since the permitted period of 20 weeks, within which abortion could be performed, had expired, the doctor of the Kalpna Chawla Medical Hospital at Karnal refused to go ahead with the abortion.

The Petitioner (victim’s mother) had hence prayed for directing the District Medical Officer, Karnal to terminate the pregnancy. She had referred to Section 5 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, to contend that Sections 3 and 4 would not apply in the present case as her daughter is only 12 years old and if the pregnancy is continued the life of the minor will be in danger.

The Court had then, vide an order dated March 20, directed the District Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon, Karnal, to constitute a Committee to assess as to whether there is any threat to the life of the minor rape victim, in case the pregnancy is continued. The Court stated that in case it is found that there is threat to the health and life of the minor victim, powers under Section 5 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, be exercised immediately. Read the order here.

The Civil Surgeon, Karnal, had then referred the victim to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, where a Medical Board was constituted by the Medical Superintendent, PGI, Chandigarh.

As per the opinion given by the Board, there was no imminent danger to the life of the victim if the pregnancy is continued. However, it was observed that a teenage pregnancy is a high risk pregnancy and needs regular close supervision and institutional delivery. The details were also explained to the mother of the victim.

Dismissing the petition, the Court hence observed, “In the light of the opinion of the Medical Board, which consisted of eminent doctors belonging to different fields, no further action can be taken by this Court with regard to the prayer made by the petitioner.”

The petition was given a liberty to approach the Chief Medical Officer, Karnal, who was directed to provide all medical help to the victim as and when required.

Read the judgment here.