In a bizarre but not unprecedented incident, a 10-year old girl from Chandigarh seeks assent of the Supreme Court to abort her 26-week old foetus that resulted from continuous rape by her maternal uncle over a long period of time. The Chandigarh Distt Court refused to allow the MTP owing to the Medical termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act’s provision allowing abortion only up to 20 weeks of pregnancy; and a PIL was filed by an Advocate seeking intervention of the Supreme Court to permit her to undergo a safe procedure of MTP.
The Court through a Bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar will hear the petition on Monday (July 24th) and address the remedies sought, including a plea to direct the Ministry of Health and Family welfare and Ministry of Law and Justice to constitute a suitable Medical Board to ensure safe termination of her pregnancy, to form appropriate guidelines to set up a Permanent Medical Board in each Distt to facilitate MTPs in cases like child rape survivors, and to pass a direction to the Centre to amend the MTP Act of 1971 to permit termination of pregnancies over 20 weeks in cases like child rape survivors.
The petition holds great relevance in the backdrop of the Indian society witnessing an alarming number of sexual crimes against children on the rise, and with more incidents of young children conceiving at a tender age. In an earlier incident, the Rohtak Court had permitted another 10-year old girl to undergo MTP of her 18-22 weeks old foetus. Medical experts hold that pregnancy at such tender age can be dangerous to the child and the foetus both, with complications arising physical-biological underdevelopment of the body. The pelvic bones and the reproductive systems of the child-mother would not attain sufficient development at this age, making it distraught with risks if she undergoes the full term of pregnancy; and making it further difficult to deliver the baby naturally or by Caesarean. It is pertinent to note at this point that a Bill to amend the MTP Act has been pending in the Parliament since 2014, and it is high time that appropriate action be taken on the same.