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Court rejects rape survivor’s petition to terminate pregnancy

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Bombay High Court AV

The Bombay High Court has refused permission to a 17-year-old rape survivor to medically terminate her 20-week pregnancy. In an order passed on Monday, a bench of Justices A S Oka and M S Sonak turned down the girl’s plea after noting that a panel of medical experts had ruled that considering the late stage of her pregnancy, an abortion would pose a major risk to the life of the petitioner.

The petitioner had approached the court last week seeking that she be permitted to medically terminate the pregnancy despite the medical panel’s recommendation.

She had argued that forcing her to continue with the pregnancy would be adverse to her mental health and well-being, and that the same would cause her much trauma.

The bench, however, noted that in view of the opinion by a medical board of Pune’s Sassoon Hospital, which said that a medical termination could pose a risk to her life, it was “impossible for this court to permit MTP”.

It also said that there was no material on record to show why the court should disbelieve the opinion of six senior medical practitioners, who were part of the panel.

As per her plea, the petitioner, a college student, was sexually assaulted between March and May this year. She is now in the 20th week of her pregnancy.

The MTP Act permits abortions after consultation with one doctor up to 12 weeks. Between 12 to 20 weeks, medical opinion of two doctors is required in such cases where the foetus has abnormalities, or in which the pregnant woman faces risks to her physical or mental well-being due to continuing with the pregnancy.

Beyond the 20 weeks limit, exceptions are legally permissible only if continuation of the pregnancy poses a threat to the child’s or the mother’s life.

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