The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the JJ Hospital to constitute a medical panel to examine the plea of a 13-year-old girl to terminate her 24-week pregnancy, reported The Times of India. The girl, who said a schoolmate had raped her, is undergoing treatment for blood cancer.
Justices AS Oka and MS Sonak directed the dean of JJ Hospital to constitute a committee of expert doctors, including a psychiatrist, to assess the girl’s health and suggest whether a medical termination of the pregnancy at such a late stage can be permitted, PTI reported. The judges directed the doctors to submit the report by Friday.
The girl’s mother approached the High Court on the grounds that her daughter was being treated for cancer and continuing with the pregnancy would be harmful for her.
According to lawyer Kuldeep Nikam, the girl has been undergoing treatment for cancer at a Mumbai hospital since 2010, reported the Hindustan Times. On September 5, during a routine checkup, doctors at the hospital discovered that she was 23 weeks pregnant. The girl then told her mother about the rape. The girl’s mother filed a criminal complaint on September 6.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act allows women to abort foetuses up to 20-weeks-old but courts can make exceptions if abnormalities are detected and if there is substantial risk to the mother’s life and health. A pending bill in Parliament proposes to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to extend the legally permissible period to end a pregnancy to 24 weeks.