Kerala High Court: P.V. Asha, J., allowed termination of pregnancy even after 25 weeks 3 days gestational age considering the tender age of the minor and risk of severe psychiatric trauma to the minor rape survivor.
Mother of the minor girl, aged 14 years, filed this instant petition pointing out that the girl was carrying 22 weeks of pregnancy and continuation of the same would be critical to her health and contrary to her interest. It was submitted by the petitioner that the minor was not mentally prepared to accept the pregnancy.
The Court directed the medical Board of specialists to submit a report before the Court in respect of the medical condition of the child and all other related aspects for conducting the procedure of medical termination. The minutes of the Medical Board stated as follows:
- In view of the gestational age of 23 weeks plus 4 days, in addition to the usual risks like haemorrhage, sepsis, risk of blood transfusion etc, due to the present gestational age, there is a possibility that the uterus may not respond to the usual methods of medical induction. In that situation we may have to resort to surgical methods (hysterotomy) which involves anaesthesia and surgical risks.
- There is a possibility that the child may be born alive, however, the chances of survival is remote.
- After examination of the victim; the Psychiatrist opined that continuation of pregnancy may result in severe psychiatric trauma. Hence it was suggested that termination of pregnancy could be considered.
The Court observed that section 5 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 permits termination of pregnancy even in cases where the period of gestation exceeds the period prescribed in Sections 3 and 4 of the Act. The Court relied on Sarmishtha Chakrabortty v. Union of India, (2018) 13 SCC 339, wherein the Supreme Court permitted termination of pregnancy even when the gestational age was 26 weeks. The Court permitted termination of pregnancy, considering the trauma undergone by the minor girl, opinion of the Psychiatrist and the report of the medical board. It was held that in the event the baby is born alive; it has to be taken care of.
The Superintendent of Government Medical College was directed by the Court to ensure that the termination of pregnancy of the minor girl was undertaken by competent Doctors at the earliest point of time, with further direction to the Doctors to take the tissue of the foetus for DNA identification and to maintain the same intact for future purposes, since a criminal case was pending in the instant case. Direction to maintain absolute privacy with respect to the identity of the petitioner and that of the minor girl while issuing the certified copy of the judgment was also given. [XYZ v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 18, decided on 04-01-2021]