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Orissa High Court denies permission to terminate pregnancy of differently-abled rape survivor

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Bhubaneswar (IL News Service): The Orissa High Court has refused permission to terminate the pregnancy of a physically and mentally challenged 22-year-old woman. The woman is also a rape victim.

The woman, also mentally challenged, is a resident of a village in Kujanga Police Station area of Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha. She was raped by a local man and a police complaint was filed on August 13 when her family came to know about it.

Holding the state responsible for her plight, the Orissa High Court directed the state government to pay an immediate amount of Rs 5 lakh as an ex-gratia amount within seven days.

The court said that the medical termination in a 24-week pregnancy would endanger the life of the woman.

The court directed that if the rape victim gives birth to a female child the state government has to give a grant of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 3 lakh if the woman gives birth to a male child. In addition, she would be entitled to receive the compensation awarded under the Victim Compensation Scheme, the court said.

The High Court said:

Keeping in mind the victim’s mental state and the family’s financial condition, it has to be assured that the victim is fully looked after throughout her pregnancy. The best medical facilities will be provided so that proper care and supervision can be ensured during the period of pregnancy as well as postnatal care at SCB Medical College and Hospital.

Justice Biswanath Rath maintained: “The entire transportation, medical and medicine expenses, including the residence of the victim and her mother during treatment, if necessary, will be the responsibility of the Jagatsinghpur district administration.”

The court also stated that the entire education of the yet to be born child will be the responsibility of the state government.

By the time the victim’s mother had approached the High Court, seeking permission for the termination of the pregnancy, medical reports had indicated that the woman was already over 20 weeks pregnant.

The high court issued an 11-point specific guideline to the government and gave a 14-point general instruction list to other authorities, including to district courts, officers of the State Legal Assistance Service, the police and doctors, who would handle cases of this kind in future.

Read Also: Tightening the noose on legislators facing criminal charges

As per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, the Orissa High Court has directed the State Health Administration to take prompt action for the consequences of rape on pregnant, minor, physically and mentally challenged girls.

Earlier this year, the Union Cabinet had cleared a long-pending change to the Act by raising the legally permissible limit for an abortion to 24 weeks from 20 weeks.

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