The Uttarakhand High Court has ruled that a rape survivor has the right to abort her pregnancy under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 if the provisions of the act are met. The right to life, according to Justice Alok Kumar Verma, is more than “survival or animal existence,” it also includes the right to live in dignity. According to the Court,

There is a legal right to terminate a pregnancy due to rape. A rape survivor has the right to choose whether or not to carry her child. She also has the right to refuse to carry a pregnancy, according to the conditions outlined in the Act.

The Court was entertaining a request from the father of a young rape victim for the State to quickly terminate her 28-week pregnancy. If the pregnancy is permitted to continue, the victim would suffer mental harm, and the kid will be born with various issues, according to counsel for the petitioner.

By the Court’s prior orders, a Medical Board presented a report declaring that, given the risk to the victim and the fetal viability, terminating the pregnancy at this gestational age was not recommended.

The Board also testified before the single-judge, claiming that the petitioner’s life would be jeopardized if medical termination was carried out. It was also claimed that the kid could be born with various malformations at this stage. The petitioner’s attorney, on the other hand, cited Supreme Court decisions that permitted for the termination of 25-26 week pregnancies. In Murugan Nayakkar v. Union of India, Justice Verma considered an apex court decision in which medical termination beyond the statutory limit was allowed, even though the Board stated that termination would be equally dangerous for the mother, given that the victim was 13 years old and in trauma.

The Court took the position that termination should be permitted to defend the victim’s right to life. However, the Court issued the following comprehensive recommendations to ensure that the procedure was carried out with the utmost care: Within 48 hours of the production of a copy of this order before the Chief Medical Officer, Chamoli, the petitioner’s pregnancy should be medically terminated by a senior most Gynecologist under the guidance of the Medical Board, which was constituted in compliance with the order dated 24.01.2022 of this Court.

If they discover any risk to the petitioner’s life during the medical termination procedure, they have the authority to cancel the treatment.

The Medical Board is required to keep a detailed record of the petitioner’s pregnancy termination procedure. The fetal tissue and blood sample will be collected by the Medical Board for DNA and other tests.

If the infant is born alive, the Chief Medical Officer of Chamoli, respondent no. 2, and the Chamoli Child Welfare Committee will take the necessary steps in line with the law.

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