Supreme Court Allows 14-Year-Old Rape Survivor to Terminate 29-Week Pregnancy

The Supreme Court of India allows a 14-year-old rape survivor to terminate her 29-week pregnancy, prioritizing her welfare and rights over strict abortion laws, setting a precedent for sensitive cases.

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Supreme Court Allows 14-Year-Old Rape Survivor to Terminate 29-Week Pregnancy

Supreme Court Allows 14-Year-Old Rape Survivor to Terminate 29-Week Pregnancy

The Supreme Court of India has permitted a 14-year-old rape survivor to terminate her 29-week pregnancy, setting aside an earlier Bombay High Court order that had declined the plea for medical termination. The court invoked Article 142 of the Indian Constitution to allow the abortion, stating that "every hour is critical for her" and that "continuation of pregnancy against will of minor may impact negatively on the physical and mental well-being of the minor."

The teenager's mother had moved the Supreme Court after the Bombay High Court rejected her request for an abortion on April 4. The Supreme Court ordered a fresh medical examination of the minor at Sion Hospital in Mumbai. The medical board opined that while some risk is involved, the threat to the minor's life is not higher than the risk of full-term delivery.

Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, abortions are legal in India for all women, including rape survivors, until 24 weeks of pregnancy. The girl had found out about her pregnancy very late, after the permissible 24-week limit. The court noted that these are "very very exceptional cases where we have to protect children" and that any further medical care required post-termination should be in the interest of the minor.

Why this matters: This landmark ruling by the Supreme Court prioritizes the welfare and rights of a minor rape survivor over the strict limits of abortion law. It sets a precedent for courts to make exceptions in sensitive cases involving the physical and mental well-being of vulnerable individuals.

The Supreme Court directed the dean of Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital and Medical College in Mumbai to constitute a team to undertake the medical termination of the pregnancy. The court also ordered the state government to bear all the expenses of the procedure and ensure any further medical care required for the minor. Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud stated, "This is an exceptional case and the court will allow the medical termination since the survivor is 14 years old and it is a rape case."

Key Takeaways

  • SC permits 14-yr-old rape survivor to abort 29-week pregnancy, overturning HC order.
  • SC invoked Article 142 to allow abortion, citing critical risk to minor's well-being.
  • MTP Act allows abortions up to 24 weeks, but court made exception in this case.
  • SC directed hospital to conduct termination, with state to bear all medical expenses.
  • Ruling sets precedent for courts to make exceptions in sensitive cases involving minors.