MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - India’s highest court gave permission on Wednesday to a 13-year-old girl who was raped to end her pregnancy in a move praised by campaigners after the court rejected a similar petition by a 10-year-old girl several weeks earlier.
Activists want India to extend a 20-week deadline for abortions as they say it impacts victims of sexual assault, especially the young whose pregnancies are detected, and rape victims should be allowed to terminate pregnancies at any stage.
“This is a pathbreaking judgment by the Supreme Court,” Nikhil Datar, a Mumbai-based gynaecologist, who was supporting the girl’s petition, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I hope the Supreme Court now gives directions to the government to make amendments to India’s abortion law.”
The case was among a string of petitions, backed by some of the country’s best known doctors, health charities and lawyers, seeking abortions at India’s top court.
The girl asked the court to terminate her pregnancy after her parents took her to a doctor worried about obesity.
As the teenager is 31 weeks pregnant, the baby will probably be delivered alive via cesarean, said one of the doctors on the medical board set up by the Supreme Court to examine the case.
“It will be a premature delivery,” said Ashok Anand, head of the gynaecology department at Mumbai’s state-run Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy Hospital, where the pregnancy will be terminated.
“There is a 90 percent chance the baby will survive.”
The Hindu newspaper reported that the judges approved the abortion on the grounds of a report submitted by the medical board examining the case.
Campaigners said the board should have the power to approve terminations, not the court, to save time.
“The girl’s pregnancy was detected at 27 weeks, but she waited another four weeks for the judgment,” said Subha Sri, chairwoman of Commonhealth, a coalition of health charities.
“We need a clear mechanism to avoid such delays.”
Reporting by Roli Srivastava @Rolionaroll; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org