Debate reignited National

SC allows minor rape victim to abort if experts agree

A minor rape victim’s plea to abort her 24-week-old foetus had the Supreme Court groping for a solution. The Class 10 schoolgirl had become pregnant after she was sedated and raped by a doctor.

The Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and Kurian Joseph differed in their views. Justice Dave said had he been a 14-year-old victim of a sex crime he would not have carried the child. But Justice Joseph pointed to the agony of the unborn child. “What will happen to the life of the child whose limbs might have developed by now? Will the abortion now be of any help to the mother,” he asked.

The court finally set up a panel of three medical experts, including a psychologist, attached to the Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad, to examine the physical and mental health of the minor victim and interact with her to decide for itself whether medical termination of her pregnancy was “immediately necessary to save the life of the mother.” If so, abortion should be done with the consent of the victim and her parents. The permission of the court in that case was not necessary, the Bench said.

The court asked the victim to be admitted to the hospital on July 29 and the tests would be conducted with the medical panel the next day.

“Is this necessary?”

Earlier, Justice Joseph asked advocate Kamini Jaiswal who represented the victim’s family if they really wanted an abortion. “Now since everyone knows about the incident, is it necessary to kill... abort the child?” He suggested that the child could be given in adoption.

Ms. Jaiswal pointed to the scar a full-term pregnancy would leave on a 14-year-old girl. Besides, there was the severe psychological, physical and emotional trauma of losing the child to adoption.

‘Deserves dignity’

“Do you know that 90 per cent of children given in adoption are from unwed mothers?” Justice Joseph said. The foetus had exceeded the 20-week period within which abortion would have been legal according to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, he observed.

Ms. Jaiswal said the victim deserved a chance to forget the nightmare and live her life with dignity.

Right to make choice

The case has reignited debate that abortion means life for the mother but murder for the child. The minor victim had moved the Supreme Court on Monday to exercise her right as a woman to make a dignified choice and abort her 23-week-old foetus.

The schoolgirl was denied permission by the Gujarat High Court, which held that it was too late to abort. She was asked to go through with her pregnancy.

In her petition, filed through her parents, the girl said the High Court expressed “sympathy,” but refused “permission to abort the child conceived due to ghastly act of rape” committed on her.

Calling it injustice, the victim argued that a “woman’s right to make reproductive choices is also a dimension of personal liberty as understood under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 5:43:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-allows-minor-rape-victim-to-abort-if-experts-agree/article7474656.ece

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