Orissa High Court refused the Termination of Pregnancy of a Mentally Challenged Rape Survivor

In the case of Runa Majhi Vs The State of Odisha through the Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department & others, W.P.(C) No.21947 of 2020, the Orissa High Court refused the Termination of Pregnancy of a Mentally Challenged Rape Survivor. Upon untimely symptoms and a scrutiny of her daughter the mother realised that her daughter was raped and as a result she was pregnant. The mother when confronted the accused was threatened. The mother of the victim stated that her major daughter was mentally retarded and physically handicapped. Thus, she filed a Writ Petition for terminating the pregnancy of her unmarried, physically handicapped and mentally retarded daughter under the provisions of The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules, 2003 and The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Regulations, 2003.

Upon receiving the suggestions of the doctor, the court refused the termination of pregnancy of the rape survivor. The court found that termination of pregnancy post 24 weeks would endanger the life of the victim. The court while declining termination of pregnancy observed that, “The pregnancy on the victim is forced one and it being contrary to her choice. The victim has been forced not only to carry an unwanted pregnancy but is also forced to give birth to the child against her will. No doubt she will carry a stigma and humiliation for the rest part of life for the offspring born as a result of ghastly recurrence of rape committed on her along with stigma and humiliation on the child and in case it is a female child, looking to the complex society, it is still worse.”

Specific Directions given by the Court

  • The State government would grant Rs 500000 in case of a female child (considering the sufferings that the child will have to go through) and Rs 300000 in case of a male child. The money will be deposited by the government in a nationalized bank in form of fixed deposit and the interest of which will be deposited in the victims account.
  • Taking into account the medical and financial condition of the victim utmost care must be taken of the victim during the continuation of the pregnancy and even after the delivery.
  • Looking at the mental and physical condition of the victim a periodical check up should be done by a psychiatrist expert.
  • The medical, medicinal and transport expenses of the victim and her mother during treatment if any, shall be the responsibility of the District Administration.
  • The entire education of the child will be the responsibility of the State.
  • The child to be born will be provided with appropriate nutrition and treatment if any.

The court gave general instruction to be followed in future as well. In case the victim is major and handicapped then the consent of victim is needed for termination and if the victim is major but retarded then the consent of victim’s mother is required. If the victim/ family is interested in aborting the pregnancy then the Chief District Medical Officer is required to do so in accordance with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

If no interest for termination is shown then the police along with Chief District Medical Office is liable to take care of the mother and the child pre-birth and post-birth for one year. The same instruction is to be followed for unmarried major victim.

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