Rape victim has right to terminate pregnancy: Allahabad HC

Prayagraj (UP), July 12 :  The Allahabad High Court has stated that a woman cannot be forced to give birth to the child of a man who has sexually assaulted her.

The bench, comprising Justice Mahesh Chandra Tripathi and Justice Prashant Kumar, made the observation on Tuesday while hearing a writ plea filed by a 12-year-old rape victim, who also has hearing and speech impairment, seeking to terminate her 25-week pregnancy.
“In the case of sexual assault, denying a woman the right to say no to medical termination of pregnancy and fasten her with the responsibility of motherhood would amount to denying her human right to live with dignity as she has a right in relation to her body which includes saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to being a mother,” the bench observed.
It added that forcing a woman to give birth to the child of a man who has sexually assaulted her would result in unexplainable miseries.
Advocate Raghav Arora, appearing on behalf of the minor, argued, “The minor was subjected to rape and was sexually assaulted multiple times by her neighbour but due to her disability to speak and listen, she could not narrate her ordeal to anyone. Pursuant to the enquiries made by her mother, the victim used sign language to disclose that she had been raped by the accused. Her mother then lodged an FIR against the accused for rape and offences under the POCSO Act.”
“When the victim was medically examined on June 16, 2023, she was found to be pregnant for 23 weeks. Further, on June 27, when the matter was placed before the Medical Board, it was opined that since the pregnancy had exceeded 24 weeks, the court’s permission was required for abortion. Hence, she filed the present petition,” Arora told the court.
The court, after hearing the parties concerned, observed: “Though the statute does not provide for termination of pregnancies over the gestational age of 24 weeks except in case of detection of substantial foetal abnormalities, the provision in regard to which is Section 3(2B) of MTP Act, the extraordinary powers of the Constitutional Courts, however, have been recognized even by the  Supreme Court of India and exercised several times by the High Courts to allow termination of pregnancies even in cases wherein pregnancy has exceeded the limit of 24 weeks.”
Considering the urgency in the matter and taking a humanitarian view, the court requested the vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University to direct the principal of Jawahar Lal Medical College, Aligarh to constitute a five-member team to examine the petitioner on July 11 and submit its report before the court on July 12.
Advocate Arora said as per the court’s order, the medical examination of the minor was conducted on Tuesday and a medical report would be placed before the high court on Wednesday in a sealed envelope.