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What Orders Did Delhi HC Issue Over Medically Terminated Pregnancy?

The Delhi High Court has directed the medical board and investigating officers to explain the pros and cons of pregnancy termination to rape survivor minors and their guardians.

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Tanya Savkoor
New Update
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The Delhi High Court has directed the investigating officers and Medical Board to explain the pros and cons of medical termination of pregnancy to rape survivor minors and their guardians in Hindi or English. The single bench comprising Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, in its November 4 order, elucidated the importance of explaining the procedure in a language the survivor spoke and understood.

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Justice Sharma explained that medical termination of pregnancy involves mental and physical repercussions which may last for a lifetime and therefore, the procedure to be followed cannot be a business-like exercise. The HC stated that it expects empathy, sensitivity and support which is vital to survivors and their guardians in such cases.

The order was directed to the Delhi Commissioner of Police, the Secretary of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the Government of NCT of Delhi, and the Indian Secretary of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. 

The plea of a 16-year-old survivor

The Delhi High Court was overseeing the case of a 16-year-old sexual assault survivor, carrying a pregnancy for a 25-week gestation period. The court was informed that the girl was afraid of losing her life in the process of medical termination of pregnancy, as the doctors explained the implications of the procedure. 

Earlier this week, the court had directed the Medical Board at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital to examine the survivor's condition the next day. However, the girl decided against the medical termination out of fear. Justice Sharma observed that there was some miscommunication in explaining the pros and cons of the procedure and said that the Medical Board had rather opined that medical termination of pregnancy was possible and the victim was mentally fit to take a decision.

The court then ordered to explain the implications of the procedure to her and her guardian in their mother tongue, Hindi, to avoid any further miscommunication. "The communication so made and the consent whether in affirmative or negative of the victim and her guardian be also obtained in her mother tongue in Hindi on the medical examination report and be sent to this Court," the order stated.  

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On November 3, the court was informed that when the pregnant survivor approached the concerned hospital, the doctors refused to give an opinion regarding the medical termination of pregnancy in the absence of a judicial order. Justice Sharma expressed her displeasure and said that no delay should be made in the hospital and doctors should give their medical opinion as to whether the minor survivor of sexual assault was fit to undergo medical termination of pregnancy.

Justice Sharma explained that any further cases of lapses on the part of concerned authorities will be treated seriously, as such lapses can have serious effects on the mental and physical well-being of the minor survivors. 

The court further stated that if the child is born alive despite the attempts at medical termination of the pregnancy, the Superintendent shall ensure that everything, which is reasonably possible and feasible in the circumstances, is offered to the child and the Child Welfare  Committee concerned shall do the needful in accordance with law.

The court order stated, "The Secretaries of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of NCT of Delhi, and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare of India shall ensure that the aforesaid directions are circulated in all the Government as well as Private Hospitals in Delhi for necessary information and compliance."


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