SC allows Mumbai rape victim to medically terminate pregnancy

New Delhi, July 25 : The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a petitioner, who is a rape victim, to medically terminate her 24 week pregnancy as the abnormalities in foetus have been confirmed by the report of the Medical Board.

The medical report says continuation with the pregnancy may gravely endanger the physical and the medical health of the petitioner.

In the last hearing, the apex court constituted a Medical Board of doctors of the KEM Hospital Mumbai to examine the petitioner.

The petitioner is a rape survivor and had sought the permission from the Supreme Court as under the present law, a foetus older than 20 weeks can't be aborted, unless it is necessary to save the life of the mother.

She also challenged the provisions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971. The issue of validity of the certain sections of the Act is already pending before a different bench of the Supreme Court.

The petition also argues the current laws deny women the right to abort in case of extraordinary medical complications.

The constitutional validity of Section 3(2) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, prescribing a ceiling of 20 weeks has been challenged before the Supreme Court.

The ceiling of twenty weeks has been termed as unreasonable, arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violative to the Right to Life and Equality.

The petition seeks that the relevant Section must be declared unconstitutional or read down. It has been said that out of 26 million births in India every year, approximately 2.3 percent have severe medical abnormalities.

The Indian abortion laws fall under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, which was enacted by the Parliament earlier in 1971 with the intention of reducing the incidents of illegal abortion and consequent maternal mortality and morbidity.

The MTP Act came into effect from April 1, 1972, and was amended in 1975 and 2002 respectively. As per the law, pregnancies not exceeding 12 weeks may be terminated based on a single opinion formed in good faith.

In case of pregnancies exceeding 12 weeks but less than 20 weeks, the termination needs opinion of two doctors.

The MTP Act clearly states the conditions under which a pregnancy can be ended or aborted, the persons who are qualified to conduct the abortion and the place of implementation.