Allowing a 16-year-old rape survivor to terminate her pregnancy, the Bombay High Court once again said that police must inform the victims in such cases that they have the option of undergoing abortion.
A bench of justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni granted permission to the girl to undergo an abortion, after a panel of doctors suggested that it would be safe for her.
The victim, who is 21 weeks pregnant, moved the court earlier this week after her request for the termination of pregnancy was rejected by two government hospitals.
Doctors at the government-run KEM hospital asked her to approach the high court, as an abortion beyond 20 weeks is illegal, except under certain circumstances.
The judges noted that the girl lost five to six days in running from one hospital to another.
“Often (rape) victims and their families do not know that they have the option of medically terminating a pregnancy up to 20 weeks. The state must tell police officers to not waste any time when they are dealing with such victims,” the court said.
“The police must inform them that they have this option and can visit a hospital,” the bench said.
Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, termination of pregnancy is not allowed beyond 20 weeks, unless its continuation poses a threat to the mother’s life.
During the arguments, advocate Meenaz Kakalia, the victim’s lawyer, had said the girl wanted to undergo abortion as the pregnancy was the result of a rape.
Continuing with the pregnancy would cause her much mental anguish, and being a minor, she must not be forced to give birth, the lawyer argued.
The high court then directed a panel of doctors to examine the girl. After the medical report said that despite the advanced stage of pregnancy, abortion would not pose danger to her life, the court granted the girl’s plea.
In the past, the court has stated in several similar cases that police must apprise rape victims of the option of abortion before it is too late.