The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed a 13-year-old girl from Mumbai to abort her 31-week-old foetus, even though it was healthy and did not have any abnormalities. The minor got pregnant as a result of rape.
Indian law allows abortion of foetuses up to 20 weeks old, but courts can make exceptions in case abnormalities are detected and if there is substantial risk to the mother’s life and health.
The decision was made “keeping in mind the age of the petitioner and the trauma she has faced” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said in his order. The bench, which also comprised justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar, came to its decision after referring to the medical report prepared by a board of doctors at Mumbai’s JJ Hospital. The judges said it would be preferable if the abortion was carried out by September 8.
Sneha Mukherjee, a lawyer from the Human Rights Law Network who was representing the girl, said the medical board had recommended an abortion. “The court considered the trauma the girl would face if she continued with the pregnancy,” she said. “It is not about the health of the foetus, but about the health and well being of the young girl.”
In July, the Supreme Court had denied the abortion plea of a 10-year-old girl, who got pregnant after her uncle raped her multiple times. On August 17, she gave birth to a baby in Chandigarh. The apex court had ordered the administration of the Chandigarh Union Territory to set up a fund of Rs 10 lakh for her.
Abortion law in India
A Bill introduced in Parliament in 2014 that proposes extending the legally permissible period to terminate a pregnancy to 24 weeks is still pending. The delay in the MTP Act amendment has forced several women to move the Supreme Court for permission to end pregnancies that are beyond the legal limit of 20 weeks.
The Act will provide women a wider window to abort terminally ill foetuses. The Supreme Court has dealt with several requests similar to that of the petitioner in the past five years. The apex court has ruled in favour of most women with abnormalities in their over 20-week pregnancies.