The Kerala High Court on Monday, 22 May, allowed medical termination of seven-month pregnancy of a minor girl who was impregnated by her own brother.
Referring to the medical board report, constituted to medically examine the risk of termination, the Kerala High Court said that the continuation of pregnancy will affect the mental health of the 15-year-old survivor. The team of medical experts found that the survivor was physically unfit to carry the pregnancy to term.
The matter will again be taken up by the court later in May – where the court has sought information on the completion of the procedure.
What Did the Medical Report Say?
"Considering the fact, the child is born from his own sibling, various social and medical complications are likely to arise. In such circumstances, the permission as sought for by the petitioner to terminate the pregnancy is inevitable," the court had said, reported news agency Press Trust of India (PTI).
"Upon perusal of the medical report, it is evident that the child (minor) is physically and mentally fit for medical termination of pregnancy. It is also stated that continuation of pregnancy is likely to cause grave injury to the social and mental health of the child," the court said.
Indian Law On Medical Termination Of Pregnancy
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act permits termination up to a period of 24 weeks, with the approval of one medical professional required for termination prior to 20 weeks, and two medical professionals for termination between 20 and 24 weeks (along with certain additional conditions specified in the Rules for the latter category).
The medical professional(s) have to give an opinion in good faith that:
(i) the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health;
or (ii) there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.
Precedents Of Minors Being Allowed to Terminate Pregnancies Beyond 24-Week Limit
In 2020, the Rajasthan High Court allowed a minor rape survivor to terminate her 25-weeks-old pregnancy – a single-judge bench had initially refused her permission as this was beyond the 24-week limit. The division bench of the Rajasthan High Court, however, said:
“The right of a child rape victim to make the reproductive choice of terminating the foetus heavily outweighs the right of the child in womb to be born even where the pregnancy is at an advanced stage."
In 2017, the Gujarat High Court permitted a 16-year-old rape survivor to medically terminate her pregnancy, stating that: “Having regard to the fact that the victim is aged sixteen and is carrying pregnancy of above twenty weeks, the same will cause lot of mental stress and grave injury to her mental health.”
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