The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has allowed a minor, a victim of sexual abuse, to terminate her 16 weeks’ pregnancy observing that if she was allowed to continue with her pregnancy it will “not only be a burden on her, but it would also cause grave injury to her mental health”.
The minor, an accused in a murder case, is in the custody at an Observation Home.
A division bench of Justices A.S. Chandurkar and Urmila Joshi-Phalke, on June 27, while allowing the medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) cited a Supreme Court judgment which said that “the right of a woman to have reproductive choice is an insegragable part of her personal liberty as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.
“She cannot be forced to give birth to a child... She has a choice to give birth to the child or not,” observed the judges.
The HC was hearing a petition by a minor, who was arrested in a murder case, seeking MTP. During the course of the investigation, it was discovered she was pregnant due to sexual abuse. She sought to terminate her pregnancy pleading that she is from an economically weak background and also she has undergone trauma due to sexual abuse, which she continues to suffer from. Under the circumstances, it would be difficult for her to raise a child.
Her advocate argued that she is neither financially nor mentally equipped to raise a child. Moreover, this was an unwanted pregnancy.
The court had called her medical report from a Medical Board which consented for termination of her pregnancy despite it being in 16th week. Under the MTP Act, court’s permission is sought after 20th week of pregnancy.
The court took note of the fact that the petitioner is a minor and unmarried. Besides being a victim of sexual abuse, she is lodged in an Observational Home for an offence of murder. Apart from hailing from a financial weak background, the minor’s pregnancy is unwanted and she is suffering from severe trauma.
“In such circumstances and taking overall view of the matter, we are of the view that declining such permission to the petitioner would tantamount to compelling her to continue with her pregnancy which in the circumstances will not only be a burden on her, but it would also cause grave injury to her mental health,” observed the HC while granting her permission to terminate the pregnancy.