The Kerala High Court stated that a woman’s right to reproductive choice is a part of her personal liberty under Article 21 while allowing medical abortion for a minor rape survivor.
The Kerala High Court ruled that a minor rape survivor’s right to medically terminate her pregnancy falls under Article 21’s definition of personal liberty. In a decision made on December 12, Justice VG Arun approved the request of a 17-year-old mentally challenged girl to end her 26-week pregnancy.
Woman’s Right To Reproductive Choice Is Her Personal Liberty: Kerala HC
The court said, “Article 21 recognises a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive methods as a part of her personal freedom, provided that there are, of course, reasonable restrictions.”
The medical board concluded that the victim’s continued pregnancy could seriously harm her mental health and increase her risk of developing depression and psychosis after taking all relevant factors into account, the court noted. The court stated that it was inclined to grant the request for medical abortion in light of the Medical Board’s recommendation and the victim’s mental state.
The court said, “In view of the Medical Board’s opinion and considering the mental status of the victim, I am inclined to allow the prayer for medical termination of the pregnancy.” It also stated that the victim’s suffering would increase with each passing day of delay.
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It is claimed that a neighbour raped the minor, leading to the pregnancy. The family moved to court after learning of the pregnancy during a gynaecological examination. The court also ordered the procedure to be done at a government hospital.
According to the court, the hospital is in charge of ensuring that the baby receives the best care possible if it is born alive so that it can develop into a healthy child.
The court further stated that, in the event that the petitioner was unable to care for the infant, the state and its agencies would do so and provide the child with medical care and facilities, keeping in mind the child’s best interests and the legal requirements of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.