- ‘Denying a woman the right to medical termination of pregnancy in sexual assault cases amounts to denying her the human right to live with dignity’
- Woman has a right in relation to her body including the right to say “yes or no” to being a mother
- Delhi health ministry, Union Ministry for Health Affairs directed to comply with the directions within two months
The Delhi High Court allowed a 25-weeks-pregnant minor rape victim to medically terminate her pregnancy while issuing guidelines for investigating officers in rape and other sexual assault cases where the length of pregnancy exceeds 24 weeks.
The court observed that denying a woman the right to medical termination of pregnancy in sexual assault cases and imposing the responsibility of motherhood on her, would amount to “denying her the human right to live with dignity” as she has a right in relation to her body including the right to say “yes or no” to being a mother, according to LiveLaw.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma observed that section 3(2) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTPA) reiterates such a right of a woman. Justice Sharma said that to force the victim to give birth to the child of a man who sexually assaulted her would result in “unexplainable miseries.” The detailed court order also mandated a Urine Pregnancy Test of a sexual assault victim at the time of medical examination.
“In case a minor victim of sexual assault is carrying a pregnancy, upon the consent of her legal guardian and desire of such legal guardian for termination of pregnancy, the victim will be produced before such Board,” the judge said. She added, “In case a minor victim is examined by such Board, an appropriate report will be placed before concerned authorities so that if an order is being sought regarding termination of pregnancy from the Courts, the Court concerned does not lose any more time and is in a position to pass an order on the same expeditiously.”
If the victim is found pregnant and she gives consent for the medical termination of the pregnancy, the investigating officer will ensure that she is produced on the same day before a medical board as envisaged under Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.
The medical board, the court was informed, is present only in four Delhi hospitals–the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital.
The victim will be produced before the board, the court said. Once she is examined, an appropriate report will be submitted to authorities concerned “so that if an order is being sought regarding the termination of pregnancy from the courts, the court concerned does not lose any more time and is in a position to pass an order on the same expeditiously”.
The high court observed that the provisions of the MTP Act mandate that the state government or the Union Territory administration has to ensure that medical boards are constituted in hospitals.
The bench noted that as per Sections 3(2C) and 3(2D) of the MTP Act the State government or union territory must ensure that medical boards are constituted in the hospitals. Therefore, ordering the Centre and state government to ensure the mandates are complied with, a Bar & Bench report said.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health Affairs, the Government of NCT of Delhi, and the Union Ministry for Health Affairs were directed to comply with the directions within two months, reported the legal portal.
-INDIA NEWS STREAM