Chennai: The Madras high court has said that in all cases where a victim girl suffers an unwanted pregnancy and where the length of pregnancy does not exceed 20 weeks, the victim girl need not be referred to the Medical Board for termination of pregnancy. Termination can be done as per the provisions of Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and the victim girl should not be unnecessarily made to knock the doors of the court.
Disposing of a petition from a girl, who was allegedly raped and became pregnant, and sought medical termination of pregnancy, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh, who issued the above guideline, said even in cases where the length of pregnancy has exceeded 20 weeks, the pregnancy can be terminated in accordance with section 5 (1) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, immediately to save the life of the pregnant woman and the medical practitioner forms such an opinion in good faith. In such cases the length of pregnancy will have no relevance and what will be relevant is only the life of the pregnant woman, the judge added.
The judge said in all cases where the length of pregnancy exceeds 20 weeks, the victim may approach the high court seeking for termination of pregnancy. The high court will then refer the matter to the permanent Medical Board constituted by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The board shall examine such cases and will ensure urgent/immediate action and submit its report to the court based on it the court can take a decision. In all cases involving termination of pregnancy where a criminal case is pending, samples will be taken for DNA test of both mother and the conceptus (foetus and placenta) and it shall be sent to the forensic laboratory through the police concerned and a report shall also be received from the laboratory. These guidelines given shall be strictly complied with by the police and the medical practitioners and necessary circular shall be issued in this regard by the DGP and the Health and Family Welfare Department immediately, the judge added.
Originally, the petitioner approached the police to make arrangements for medical termination of pregnancy. Since they did not take any steps, she got herself admitted in Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Egmore. Even though, the doctors agreed to conduct medical termination of pregnancy for her, they wanted to coordinate with the police since the conceptus has to be sent for analysis to the forensic department. Left with no other remedy, she approached the high court and the judge had on June 6 and 12 issued several directions and finally medical termination of pregnancy was done.
The judge said in the present case, the petitioner was taken to the government Kasturba Gandhi hospital for women and children and general hospital, Triplicane, Chennai on June 8 and the doctor concerned on examination of the petitioner found that the petitioner was 8 weeks pregnant. Therefore, the very same hospital could have conducted the termination of pregnancy without referring the petitioner to the Medical Board. However, due to the wrong understanding of the provisions of the Act and the orders of the Supreme Court, the girl was again sent to the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital on June 10.
This procedure adopted by the hospital at Triplicane was unnecessary and they themselves could have done the termination of pregnancy, the judge added. The judge said the victim girl was made to move from one hospital after another right from June 1 onwards and ultimately the Medical Board Termination of Pregnancy was done only on June 17. In cases of this nature, the doctors and the courts need to be more sensitive and should act fast since the victim girl was carrying a foetus, which keeps reminding her of the agony faced by her due to rape and every moment she suffers mental agony and depression due to the unwanted pregnancy that has been forced on her. This situation should not happen again, the judge added....