Days after a lower court refused a plea to allow a 10-year-old rape survivor undergo an abortion, the Supreme Court on Monday decided to examine whether she could be allowed to terminate her 26-week unwanted pregnancy arising out of rape.
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachudn directed a panel of doctors at PGI Chandigarh to examine the girl and her foetus on July 26 to “affirm one way or the other” whether her health and that of the baby will be “adversely affected if the pregnancy is allowed to be full term”.
The apex court also directed Secretary of Legal Services Authority of the Union Territory to make all arrangements to bring the child to the hospital and submit the report in a sealed envelop before it on July 28 when it will decide on whether the minor victim should be allowed to undergo abortion.
“Before the matter is taken up for hearing on July 28, the Member Secretary, after having followed the procedure and obtained due permission of at least one of the parents of the child, shall have the child examined at the PGI, Chandigarh, from a Board of Doctors on July 26, so as to affirm one way or the other, whether the health of the girl child concerned, who is stated to be of the age of 10 years, and also that of the foetus, would be adversely affected, if the pregnancy is continued for the full term,” the bench said.
The 10-year-old girl had been raped several times, allegedly by her maternal uncle. Her father is a government employee and mother a domestic help.
The matter came to light when the victim complained to her parents of stomach ache. She went to the doctor who confirmed that she was six months pregnant.
During the course of investigation, it came to light that the victim was allegedly raped six to seven times by the accused when he visited the home.
Doctors insist that the pelvic bones are not fully developed in girls at this age and, therefore, tolerating a full-term pregnancy is very risky. While normal delivery is ruled out, even a Caesarean section at that age is dangerous.
Courts allow medical termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and can make an exception if the foetus is genetically abnormal.
There have been cases where rape victims moved the court to abort their unwanted pregnancies arising out of rape and the top court has allowed their plea to terminate foetus beyond legally permissible period.
In April last year, the Supreme Court had allowed a 14-year-old rape survivor to abort her 24-week foetus. Allowing her to undergo abortion, the court observed that the girl’s life would be ruined and she would have to live her rest of the life with the social stigma associated with the child.
Similarly, on July 3, the apex court allowed the abortion plea of a Kolkata-based 26-week pregnant lady on the basis of the medical report which said that the child, even if born alive, might not survive for a long time as the baby would have to go through multiple surgeries due to congenital disorder.