A minor who had been sexually assaulted was given permission by the Delhi High Court to end her pregnancy at 25 weeks and 6 days gestation. While pointing out that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act only applies to pregnancies that can last up to 24 weeks, Justice Yashwant Varma emphasized that in exceptional circumstances, the Court could use its extraordinary powers to approve such termination even though the Act’s provisions, when read strictly, might not permit it. This Court is adamant that forcing the petitioner to carry through the pregnancy even if it was brought on by the sexual assault occurrence would leave a lasting psychological scar on her and harm her mental health severely and irreparably.” In a nutshell, the petitioner, a juvenile, had applied to the Delhi High Court through her father, pleading for authorization to have her pregnancy medically terminated.”
The respondent hospital had created a Medical Board of four members on its own initiative, and the board’s opinion was that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act only permits termination of a pregnancy after 24 weeks if the Medical Board has determined that there are significant fetal abnormalities. The Court noted that under the amended Section 3 of the Act and the correspondingly added Explanation, where a pregnant woman claims that her pregnancy was caused by rape or sexual assault, the pregnancy’s pain is presumed to be a grave injury to her mental health, as is statutorily required to be presumed in cases of rape.
In this case, the court recognized the serious mental harm, the woman’s right to choose whether to have a child or have an abortion, privacy, physical integrity, and human dignity while approving the termination of the pregnancy. As a result, the respondent hospital was instructed to establish a Medical Board that could treat the petitioner and supervise the termination of pregnancy.