The Gujarat High Court has allowed a 23-year-old mentally retarded rape survivor to undergo termination of her 21-week-old pregnancy. The Single Bench of Justice Niral R Mehta said, “Mental and physical trauma that she would have to undergo if she were forced to carry the foetus and take on the onerous duties of motherhood is unimaginable”.
Justice Mehta relied on the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, which recognises the reproductive right and bodily integrity of women. The Court also noted that in the case of pregnancy due to rape or sexual assault, the anguish out of it could reflect grave injury to the survivor’s mental health.
She is a mentally retarded (50% disability as per the certificate issued on 06/03/2022) patient on an epileptic drug for the last 18 years. There may be a substantial risk to the physical and mental health of the victim and baby with the continuation of pregnancy.
A medical board report said the survivor was 21 weeks pregnant. It also revealed that according to the psychiatrist Dr Deep Bhadja, the intellectual level of the survivor will restrict her from taking care of the baby.
Justice Mehta further directed, “Superintendent, General Hospital, Morbi to ensure the best medical treatment through the senior-most Gynecologists of his confidence. Once termination of the pregnancy proceedings is over, the Superintendent shall also depute one senior most Gynecologist to ensure that the periodical treatment as and when required by the victim, be given adequately”.
The court also ordered the concerned hospital to preserve the terminal foetus for DNA testing.