NEW DELHI: A board of doctors will examine and recommend whether or not a 10-year-old rape victim who became pregnant can safely terminate her 26-week foetus.The case is the latest of a series of petitions by pregnant women that have challenged the country’s jurisprudence on abortion.
Hearing a plea seeking permission for the 10-year-old to terminate her pregnancy, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Chandigarh Legal Services Authority to assist it as amicus curiae and get the rape survivor examined by a board of doctors on July 26.
The shocking incident came to light on May 17 when police confirmed that the 10-year-old girl, longtime victim of sexual abuse by her step-father, was found to be pregnant.
Even though her pregnancy had crossed the stipulated 20-week limit for abortion in India, a court initially greenlighted the abortion after taking into consideration advice from medical professionals. However, on July 19, a district court in Chandigarh refused to let the abortion happen as the pregnancy had entered its 26th week.
On Monday, a Bench comprising chief justice J S Khehar and justice D Y Chandrachud referred to a medical board the question whether the girl’s life would be at risk if they allowed the abortion now.
The apex court asked the Legal Services Authority to ensure that she and her mother are provided with proper transportation for her examination at PGI, Chandigarh. The case will be heard again on July 28, two days after doctors consider the case. Their recommendation is to be filed to the court in a sealed cover.
During Monday’s hearing, the counsel for the girl argued that she had already been examined by a paediatric neurologist who opined that the foetus had a neurological problem that was likely to aggravate and require an expensive post-natal neurosurgical procedure.
At present, courts allow medical termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. A court can make an exception if the foetus is genetically abnormal and if the mother’s life is at risk.The petition, filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava has sought guidelines be framed by the top court to set up a permanent medical board in each district for termination of pregnancies in exceptional cases involving child rape survivors facilities.