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Pregnancy can be terminated if it risks the mother’s mental health : Kerala High Court

Termination of pregnancy if permissible even in cases where the period of gestation has been exceeded as prescribed in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act. The High Court bench consisting of J. P. V. Asha, in the matter of Mrs. X. v. Union Of India & Ors. [WP (C) No. 812 of 2021 (B)] allowed the writ petition seeking termination of pregnancy of a minor rape victim.

The petitioner was the mother of a 14 year old minor rape victim and had approached the court pointing out that the girl had been carrying about 20 weeks 8 days of pregnancy and the continuation of the same  was contrary to her interest. It was stated that the victim girl was not mentally prepared for the pregnancy and that there was a high risk in the event of continuation of her pregnancy as she has been subjected to the trauma of sexual assault. Initially, the court passed an interim order directing the constitution of a medical board to furnish a report. The medical board in the report stated that the continuance of pregnancy would ben extremely detrimental to the patient’s wellbeing.

As per Section 5 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, termination of pregnancy is permissible even in cases where the period of gestation exceeds the period prescribed in Sections 3 and 4 of the Act, in events wherein the medical practitioner, in good faith, claims that the termination of pregnancy is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman. The HC relied on the case of Sarmishtha Chakrabortty v. Union of India [(2018) 13 SCC 339], wherein the termination of pregnancy was permitted where the for the patient who was 26 weeks pregnant because the medical board  report revealed that threat of severe mental injury to the women and multiple complex problems to the child, if born alive. Various other cases where relied upon wherein the minor victim was not prepared to deliver a baby.

Hence, the HC decided that “Section 5 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, termination of pregnancy is permissible even in cases where the period of gestation exceeds the period prescribed in Sections 3 and 4 of the Act”. Further, the HC also added that “The Registry and all concerned, shall see that absolute privacy is maintained with respect to the identity of the petitioner while issuing the certified copy of the judgment or otherwise” and accordingly allowed the petition.

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