In a landmark judgement on Tuesday, the Kerala High Court (HC) ruled that a rape survivor can opt for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) as the unwanted pregnancy 'posed threat to her life' and because she was not mentally prepared to deliver.

 

The judgement gains weight as an amendment bill that seeks significant changes in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 is pending before the Parliament. 

 

The petitioner sought permission to terminate the pregnancy as the doctors of government hospitals in Kerala refused to take up MTP. In her complaint, the women alleged that she got pregnant in a relationship with a man who ditched her after promising to marry her. 

 

Taking a humanitarian stand, the HC felt that the petitioner was not mentally prepared to deliver and hence it would cause mental stress and a change of attitude that may affect her normal life. It ordered the superintendent of Kozhikode medical college hospital to take steps to conduct MTP. But the hospital officials were also directed to preserve material to perform a DNA test to help the police to carry on with its investigation into the rape allegations. 


 The 1971 Act permits a  registered medical practitioner to terminate a pregnancy if it does not exceed 12 weeks and if it posed a risk to the pregnant woman.  If the pregnancy is between 12 and 20 weeks, two registered medical practitioners should approve the need for MTP. 

 

The draft Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2014,  provides for abortion between 20 weeks and 24 weeks if the pregnancy involves substantial risks to the mother or child, or if the woman claims that a rape caused that pregnancy. 

 

One of the significant verdicts in this category was delivered in July this year, by the Supreme Court which allowed a rape survivor to undergo MTP  as a medical report showed that the foetus had multiple anomalies.