High Court allows mentally challenged woman to abort 22-week-old foetus
The Bombay High Court today permitted a mentally challenged rape victim to abort her 22-week-old foetus
The Bombay High Court today permitted a mentally challenged rape victim to abort her 22-week-old foetus. In a significant order, the court also ruled that as the victim was mentally challenged and incapable of taking her own decisions, her legal guardian -- in this case her mother -- must be allowed to take the decision on her behalf.
A division bench of Justices R M Borde and Vibha Kankanwadi held that the victim (or her legal guardian) had the right to decide whether she wished to continue the pregnancy which was the result of a sexual assault. The bench cited the Supreme Court's 2009 order that had held that a woman's right to exercise her reproductive choices was part of personal liberty guaranteed by the constitution.
"The freedom of making choices is an integral part of a woman's personal liberty and it cannot be taken away," the bench said. As per the plea filed by the victim's mother, the victim, a resident of Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, was allegedly raped by an unknown person in November this year. When the family realised that she was pregnant, they visited a local hospital for medical termination of the pregnancy. However, the hospital refused though the victim was only 18 weeks pregnant.
The hospital authorities refused to perform abortion on the ground that the victim, with hearing and speaking disability and mentally challenged, was not capable of giving a clear consent for the procedure. Subsequently, the victim's mother moved the high court, seeking permission to abort the foetus.
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