SC allows 13-year-old rape survivor to abort pregnancy
Less than a month after a 10-year-old rape survivor was forced to give birth to her rapist's child, the SC has allowed a pregnant 13-year-old alleged victim to undergo an abortion. The decision was based on a medical report of the 32-weeks-pregnant teenager based in Mumbai. The court has urged hospital authorities to conduct the procedure on September 8.
How abortion works in India
Under Indian laws, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, disallows abortions after 20 weeks. After 12 weeks, two medical practitioners have to approve the procedure depending on risks to mother and child. If a woman still wishes to abort, she has to approach courts, but that's no guarantee they will be permitted; judgment is based on medical evaluation by doctors.
But the system has too many problems
Often, by the time proceedings are done, it is too late for an abortion. Many women then might tend to go for self-induced abortions or backstreet providers. Ten women die daily due to unsafe abortions. Taking congnizance, the SC has urged the Centre to form medical boards to evaluate such cases on emergency basis, thus ensuring time isn't lost in approaching courts.
Still, the Centre hasn't shown signs of prioritizing the issue
Meanwhile, an amendment to the MTP Act extending permissible limit for abortion beyond 20 weeks has been pending in parliament since 2014. The SC has come out in favor of amending the act which extends the abortion deadline to 24 weeks, provided doctors believe that pregnancy poses a threat to mother's life. Recently, it urged the Centre to respond to a related petition.
Will the privacy verdict change things?
There's a possibility. While reading out the recent SC verdict on privacy, Justice J Chelameswar noted: "A woman's choice of whether to bear a child or abort are areas which fall in the realm of privacy." However, the case has to be decided on separately.