Minor’s Pregnancy Due To Rape Terminated at 26 Weeks as per Kerala High Court’s Orders

Pregnancy due to rape is not a new issue in India. In fact, there are innumerable cases were women are impregnated by their rapists. When still dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse, having to deal with the pregnancy is dangerous for both the pregnant mother and the unborn foetus. The idea of abortion or medical termination of pregnancy comes into play here. The Kerala High Court recently gave a judgement in a matter of medical termination of pregnancy of a teenage girl who was impregnated by her rapist.

Facts

The incident was with regard to a minor rape. The girl involved is a 15-year-old minor, who is 23 weeks pregnant. The parents of the girl contended that she was not mentally prepared to accept the pregnancy. It was also contended that the girl was also at a high risk as she was traumatized by the sexual assault she was subjected to.

Opinion of the medical board

The medical board that was set up in the given instance gave their professional opinions on two counts. The impact of pregnancy on teenage girls was the first area discussed. The board put forth the following opinion,

Continuation of pregnancy in teenage girls is having high risk of developing preeclampsia, anaemia, post-partum haemorrhage, Hysterectomy, low birth weight for baby perinatal death, post-traumatic stress disorders”

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The second matter discussed by the medical board was with regard to conducting an abortion on the girl the risks involved was put forth and the professional opinion was also shared. It was stated that

Since the girl is 15 years and the pregnancy has advanced up to 26-28 were there is a high risk for the life of the girl for the following reasons:

  1. Failure of the expulsion of a foetus by medical management for MTP may end up in hysterotomy and excessive haemorrhage and hysterectomy and may endanger her life.
  2. Incomplete expulsion of products of conception may lead to infection, bleeding and sepsis. 3. Amniotic fluid embolism, pulmonary embolism may happen
  3. Anaesthetic complications during surgical procedures.
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Hence MTP should be done, if necessary, at a highly equipped tertiary care Centre with ICU facilities with the incorporation of all specialities.

Decision

The single-judge bench comprising of Justice P.V Asha analysed the judgements in previous cases. It was stated in the judgement in the case of XYZ v. Union of India and Others ((2019) (3) Bom. CR 400) that

“If a child is born alive, despite attempts at the medical termination of pregnancy, the parents, as well as the doctors, owe a duty of care to such child. The best interests of the child must be the central consideration in determining how to treat the child.”

The Court also analysed previous judgements like the Neethu Narendran V State of Kerala ((2020) (3) KHC 157) where abortion was permitted in the pregnancy despite the completion of 23 weeks of gestational period. After detailed analysis, the Court allowed the petition. The decision was mainly based on the unpreparedness of the child due to the trauma she is undergone and still undergoing.

ABC vs. State of Kerala and Ors. [Civil Writ Petition No.29209 of 2020 (A)].


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