The Court also noted that reports on file indicated that the victim child had not been forced by the rape-accused, although it would still be a case of statutory rape since the child was only 13 or 14 years old.
The Kerala High Court recently declined to allow the abortion of a 30-week pregnancy carried by a 14-year-old rape survivor after factoring in the advanced stage of the pregnancy in addition to certain reports indicating that it appeared to be a case of “statutory rape.”
Justice Devan Ramachandran was considering a plea filed by the mother of the rape survivor, who sought permission to abort her minor daughter’s pregnancy.
The Court observed that the Medical Board had opined that an abortion was no longer possible and that, at this stage, the baby would have to be delivered alive.
“Apodictically, this is not a case where the victim child’s health is a risk on account of the pregnancy; nor are there any lethal foetal abnormalities detected. The pregnancy is almost in its 9th month and the foetus is gaining weight and fat, getting closer to its eventual birth weight. Its vital organs, like the brain and lungs, are almost fully developed, preparing for life outside the womb,” the Court added.
Notably, the Court also observed that, in an unusual twist, the reports and records before the Court indicated that “the victim child had not been forced” by the rape accused.
“That said, no doubt, the child is still very young – just 13 to 14 years in age, and what happened to her is certainly statutory rape,” the Court clarified.
The judge added these observations were only made with reference to the present case and must not be construed to favour the accused, who is facing proceedings under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act).
The judge proceeded to reject permission for the victim child’s abortion since the pregnancy was at an advanced stage.
“This Court is saying as afore only for one reason, namely that the pregnancy is now very advanced, with the Medical Board speaking with unanimity that the “uterus corresponded to 30 weeks of gestation with good foetal heart.” The foetus has, in fact, life with heart rate; and hence, termination of the pregnancy at this stage is impossible, as also untenable,” the Court said.
In earlier hearings, the High Court had passed orders to medically examine and protect the victim.
Government Pleader, advocate Vidya Kuriakose informed the Court that the victim child was now with her parents, having brought back from Children’s Home where she had earlier been housed.
Appearing for the girl’s mother (petitioner), advocate M Kabani Dinesh argued that the child was entitled to terminate her pregnancy since her pregnancy was the outcome of rape.