Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Kerala High Court allows termination of 26-week pregnancy of 13-year-old

Contending that the petitioner’s daughter was a victim of rape by her own brother, the father of the victim approached the High Court, seeking a direction to terminate the pregnancy of his daughter.

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ILNS: The Kerala High Court has permitted a 13-year-old survivor of sexual assault to terminate her 26-week-old pregnancy.

The single-judge bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas on Monday observed that the pregnancy will cause a grave injury to the minor and scar her life. It may even have the possibility of reminding the victim of the rape.

It is obviously not in the interest of the society to have this young victim undergo the trauma of the incident of rape everyday in her life. The anguish that the pregnancy causes to her will be lifelong and she may have to live with the traumatic experience throughout her life. The parents and the siblings will also have to share this trauma throughout their lives, noted the Judge.

The case pertains to a minor, who was taken to a hospital after complaining of stomach pain. After physical examination, the doctor noticed that the girl was almost six months pregnant. Following this, her parents registered a complaint with the police station.

Investigation revealed that the offence was committed by the 14-year-old sibling of the victim and a report in this regard was filed before the Juvenile Justice Board. According to the birth certificate of the girl, her month of birth was July, 2007. The scan report dated April 1, 2021 showed the foetus as 24 weeks and four days old.

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Contending that the petitioner’s daughter was a victim of rape by her own brother, the father of the victim approached the High Court, seeking a direction to terminate the pregnancy of his daughter.

The High Court impleaded the Superintendent of Medical College, Kozhikode as additional fourth respondent and directed him to constitute a Medical Board and report to the High Court, as to whether the medical termination of pregnancy can be performed on the victim. The report was directed to be placed before the High Court for consideration on April 19.

Advocate Rakesh K, Counsel for the Petitioner, contended that the victim was in fact born as a premature child and has other medical conditions, which would also aggravate, if the pregnancy is not terminated. The young age of the victim, the consequences pregnancy will force upon the victim, her parents and even the unborn child, are matters which this Court cannot ignore.

Citing a few judgments of various High Courts, in which the Court had ordered termination of pregnancy exceeding 20 weeks in the case of rape victims who were not mentally prepared to deliver the child, in order to save their lives, the Bench said, “In view of the opinion of the Medical Board that the medical termination of pregnancy can be considered, if the higher risk and facts mentioned in the report are acceptable, this Court elicits the views of the parents of the victim.

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“They also expressed their desire to terminate the pregnancy, taking into account the traumatic experience for the victim as well as the possible genetic disorders that may befall the unborn child due to the close relationship with the alleged offender of the rape. Considering all the above factors, it is declared that the pregnancy of petitioner’s minor daughter is liable to be terminated forthwith,”

-the Court ordered.

It was also directed by the Court to the doctors to take the tissue of the foetus for DNA identification and maintain the same intact for future purposes, “especially due to the fact that a criminal case is pending in the instant case”.

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